The Summit Jaguars beat the Mansfield Tigers at the annual Black Out football game Friday, but Mansfield students were still announced as winners on the field in a separate competition.
The football game was not the only rivalry, as the two high schools competed to gather the most canned-food donations last week.
The schools were able to get a total of 8,959 cans with the help of the Tigers’ 5,539 cans and the Jaguars’ 3,420 cans, thanks to initiative that pits the students’ competitive spirits against one another for a good cause.
The drive starts with the academic school year, but the students kicked into high gear last week along with the Mansfield vs. Summit football game, which Mansfield High calls Black Out.
“We sort of harness that rival sort of spirit,” Mansfield senior Sam Keltner said. “It's Summit, we're always pretty pumped to play them and beat them.”
Summit senior Nellie Cronen echoed the sentiment.
“I think it's definitely a big help that there’s a competition in it,” she said. “People get excited about it just because we want to beat Mansfield and to help people.”
The students try different things to get more people involved including going door-to-door and getting the word out through social media. This year Mansfield students organized a raffle where donating 10 cans enters students to win gift cards to local businesses and Tiger gift baskets.
Keli Cullen, who teaches teen leadership at Summit, said the students have taken ownership of the initiative.
“If they want to do things like this, they're using their own money and that's what I love about it,” she said. “A lot of the kids are doing this on their own and they’re growing up to be more well-rounded people.”
Cindy Bridges, Mansfield High School National Honor Society sponsor, said the students know the effort goes beyond the competition.
“Our students were talking about it. Honestly it doesn’t matter which school donates the most cans,” she said. “It’s really a matter that Mansfield as a city wins because we fill our food banks because that's what our goal is.”
“Mansfield has been so good to the school and my family in particular,” he said. “Any way we can give back is always good.”
The cans were donated to Harvesting International Ministry Center, which is based in Mansfield. The organization serves 100,000 people in more than 25 North Texas counties.
Cronen has participated in the food drive through her high school years and said she looks at the canned-food drive differently as a senior than she did when she was a freshman.
“Over the years as we get older and mature,” she said, “you’re more and into not only the competition but the donation and the feeling that you're giving to people and you're not just trying to win even though that's a fun thing about it.”
Dustin L. Dangli, 817-390-7770