Russellville Hoops for Hunger

16122920The Rotary Club of Russellville recently hosted the 2016 Holiday Hoops for Hunger tournament food competition and basketball tournament.

According to A.J. Walsh- Hunger Busters Committee Chair, over $51,700.00 in cash was raised.

The December, 2016 Humanitarian Service event coordinated by the Rotary Club of Russellville, Arkansas is titled Holiday Hoops for Hunger and is an annual fundraising, and now food-raising, high school basketball tournament benefiting two Russellville based 100% volunteer entities. Those entities provide hungry children and families over 750,000 meals per year in the Russellville/west-central Arkansas area. Due to this event, in 2017 children and families in 10 other communities in 5 Arkansas counties and one community in Texas will also receive food providing 5,720 meals. Nine

Partner Rotary Clubs participated as sponsors of a food-raising contest between 11 sponsored Hoops for Hunger Basketball teams to raise cash and food worth over $51,700 for hungry school children and families in the teams’ home communities. Over $44,000.00 net tournament cash was raised. And 2,576 items of food, valued at $7,729.50, were donated by the teams and the Rotary Club Partners.

Two 100% volunteer hunger Russellville alleviation entities are the primary beneficiaries of the Holiday Hoops for Hunger Tournament series. River Valley Food 4 Kids, a 501 (c) (3) charitable organization, feeds over 1,300 school aged children in 5 school districts in Pope County Arkansas. They operate primarily through the school backpack food program on weekends during the school year and provide weekly stocked bags of food for school children at Christmas, Spring Break, and 11 weeks in the summer when school is not in session. RVF4K provided over 230,000 breakfasts and lunches to 1,300 different school children in five school districts in 2016.

The second beneficiary is the Manna House Food Pantry, a local mission of the Russellville First United Methodist Church. Manna House serves residents of Pope County, Arkansas and nearby communities in Yell, Logan, and Johnson counties with take-home bags of groceries feeding 5 people for a week. In 2015 Manna House provided 526,968 meals serving 24,053 individuals, including seniors and children. Manna House is on track to significantly exceed these numbers in 2016.

The Rotary Club of Russellville, Club 2564 of District 6170, is the innovator of this Rotary Humanitarian Service and fundraising project. 11 of 16 total basketball teams were sponsored by a total of 9 Partnering Rotary Clubs in two Arkansas Rotary Districts, 6150 and 6170. The Rotary Club of Russellville and the Clarksville Rotary Club each sponsored two teams. The Cabot Rotary Club, the Conway Morning Rotary Club, the Rotary Club of Dardanelle, the Rotary Club of Little Rock, the Rotary Club of Little Rock Midtown, the Rotary Club of Sherwood, and the Russellville Downtown Rotary Club each sponsored one team. The two Little Rock clubs, the Cabot, and the Sherwood partner clubs are from District 6150. The rest (5) of the partnering Rotary Clubs are in District 6170. The Mabank, TX team (which placed second in the food competition) was one of five teams not sponsored by a Rotary Club. The winning Rotary Sponsored team, Russellville Downtown Rotary, won a cash prize of $950 (1/3 of the total Rotary Sponsor Fees and a $100 donation) to be fully distributed by the club to any Russellville hunger alleviation agency, with the collaboration of the 1st place team—the Russellville boys’ Cyclones. Had another Rotary sponsored team won 1st place that $950 would have been distributed in the home communities of the sponsoring Rotary Club and the High School team winning the prize.

Partnering Rotary Clubs paid a sponsor fee of $250 for each team sponsored and provided advice, counsel, location suggestions, motivation, publicity, and in many cases even gathered food to assist their team raise designated food items for the food competition.

Cash and food worth over $51,700 was raised by this event. When distributed to the two primary tournament beneficiaries, and other similar entities in the 10 other communities, the combined value of the event will result in 119,625 meals made available at no cost to hunger alleviation entities in 2 States, 6 counties, 11 communities, and three Rotary Districts.