Celebrities spur LaGrange, Troup food drive competition
Alumni Elijah Kelley, Wesley Woodyard to present winner at Friday’s football game
by Matthew Strother News editor
The rivalry between LaGrange and Troup high schools is long-running, but this year, two well-known alumni from each school have decided to focus that rivalry into something positive.
Actor Elijah Kelley, who recently had a role in “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” is a Troup High School graduate. NFL player Wesley Woodyard, a linebacker for the Denver Broncos, is a LaGrange High School graduate.
The two homegrown celebrities have returned to Troup County numerous times for appearances and community events, and Friday plan to be at the Troup vs. LaGrange football game, but not simply supporting their alma maters. The two recently came up with an idea to partner Kelley’s Elijah Kelley Foundation and Woodyard’s 16 Ways Foundation to promote a food drive competition.
The resulting Battle of the Harvest took the schools’ independent fall food drives and turned them into a friendly competition. Starting Oct. 1 and ending Thursday, the school that collects the most donations from students in their first-period classes will be awarded a trophy– and a year of bragging rights – by Kelley and Woodyard at Friday’s game. They hope to make this an annual event.
“I chose to partner with Elijah for the Battle of the Harvest because we both understand the importance of inspiring and motivating our youth,” Woodyard said. “We use our platforms as opportunities to give back to the Community.”
Added Kelley: “Wesley and I formed a bond over the desire to enrich our community. He strives for greatness and inspires me. He represents hope. I am always excited when I have an opportunity to give back to the community that gave me so much.”
Each school has a charity that will receive the donations. All of THS’s donations go to Salvation Army and LHS’s donations go to LaGrange Personal Aid.
“We’ve had more participation this year than any previous food drive,” said Connie Aplin, THS family consumer science teacher who is helping coordinate the school’s drive.
Even though THS and LHS both had previously held separate fall food drives, administrators said the competition has definitely spurred increased interest. Service groups at both schools are encouraging donations.
“Last year was my first being part of the food drive,” said THS principal Chip Medders. “This year, the excitement is incredible.”
LHS media specialist Ginnie Walker, who is helping coordinate the drive for the school, said that collections have increased this year.
“All the groups have really promoted this,” Walker said.
“With everyone so energetic about helping, we’ve gotten a lot done,” said Chloe Battle, president of the LHS National Honor Society. “It’s really helped us collect as much as we can.”
Teanna Glenn, an LHS varsity cheerleader, said her group is helping to promote the drive and donations. Many people are making extra effort to make donations.
Canon Skinner, president of the LHS Concerned Teen Organization, said the participation in some classes has been great.
“It looks like someone brought a Kroger or Publix truck and unloaded it into coach (Kenny) Moore’s room,” Skinner said of the donations.
LHS also is holding competitions among its classes to see which can collect the most to further spur donations. Medders said the administrators at THS have gotten involved by adopting a class that was lagging to promote donations.
Troup High plans to have a ceremony and display all its collections before they are boxed and sent to Salvation Army. LaGrange High “might have a little prize” for the class that collects the most, Walker said.
However, the amount of donations, in the end, is most important for those who will receive them, the officials noted.
“That’s what it’s all about,” Medders said. “It’s a friendly competition with a huge positive impact.”
LHS principal Penny Johnson said it really doesn’t matter as much who wins the competition.
“It’s a healthy competition with a goal to better meet the needs of the community,” Johnson said.
However, neither school wanted to give the other an edge by revealing how much they’ve collected so far.
“We can’t divulge that information,” Medders said with a smile.
“It’s a secret,” Johnson said with a laugh.
The ceremony to announce the winner is planned to be prior to Friday’s Troup vs. LaGrange football game, set for 7:30 p.m. at Callaway Stadium.
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