Tobs take a hit at hunger

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Last year, the Wilson Tobs’ annual Home Run for Hunger event raised more than 14,000 pounds of food for area pantries that feed the hungry in Wilson each day.

And officials are switching things up this year to get more community participation and raise even more food for Wilson’s food pantries.

That’s why they’ve tapped into new partnerships with various businesses, organizations, school athletics teams, tournaments and clubs. The event, now in its fifth year, will now be called the Home Run for Hunger Season.

Instead of a one-day event held at Fleming Stadium, food collection for more than a dozen pantries in Wilson will be for an entire season. It will begin March 24 and end June 25 on Game Day Celebration.

“We wanted to expand it to more events,” said Mike Bell, Wilson Tobs general manager. “We wanted to run it for a season long. That’s the big change.”

Nancy Craft, Wilson Luncheon Lions Club secretary and one of the event organizers, said the new model came out of brainstorming.

“Let’s make it a whole season of giving,” Craft said.

Officials say this will allow them to collect food at many large events, at multiple locations and for several months. And they’ve enlisted many new partners, including Wilson County Schools, the Wilson County Schools Athletic Department, Wilson City Little League, Wilson Parks and Recreation Department and the Wilson Youth Council.

“The goal was to get major parts of Wilson County involved with this program,” Bell said. “This is a community effort.”

For example, this year’s teams for the Wilson Tobs High School Varsity Classic and the Wilson Tobs High School Junior Varsity Classic will be collecting canned goods for the cause instead of paying an entry fee this year. There will also be competitions between teams, who will receive rewards and prizes for those who bring in the most canned goods.

“Sports are such a large part of the Wilson community,” Bell said. “Why not use that gateway to help those in need and help the community?”

Anyone who attends any of the several athletic events and brings canned goods will receive a free ticket to the Tobs game on June 25, which will also be the Home Run for Hunger Celebration.

Parents and fans who attend these events will also get discounted tickets to events including the varsity and JV classics.

Since the food drive’s inception, the Wilson community has banded together for one day and collected thousands of pounds of food. Officials say organizations that help the hungry experience a donation drought during the spring and summer months. Shelves are bare; donations are low. But the Home Run for Hunger season event will alleviate these problems.

As the food donations come throughout the season, they will go right back out to the food pantries.

“Hunger is not a one-day problem,” said Gary Farmer, a school board member who is part of the organizing committee. “It’s all four seasons.”

On June 25, volunteers will still be stuffing the Tobs bus with food donations throughout the evening. Folks can donate then, too.

Officials say they hope everyone can find it in their hearts to donate to this cause that means so much to Wilson County and allows Wilson to help those in need.

“You are helping your community and those who live near you,” Bell said. “Everybody knows someone in need. You are directly helping them.”

Craft agreed.

“People are hungry all over this city,” she said. “It’s going to feed somebody.”

And as the Home Run for Hunger season gets underway, Craft says she hopes the momentum will grow throughout the community. She also believes this year’s event will be the best yet.

“We feel like we’ve loaded our bases this year,” Craft said. “I feel like we are going to have a grand slam.”

Sponsors include The Wilson Times, Wilson Luncheon Lions Club, S.T. Wooten, EmergeOrtho, First Baptist Church of Wilson, Stephenson Millwork and First Media Radio.

olivia@wilsontimes.com | 265-7879