The friendly competition between Franklin High School and Smoky Mountain High School has earned the name ‘the battle of Cowee Mountain,’ but never has the rivalry been for such a good cause.
The two high schools have been competing to collect gift boxes for Operation Christmas Child (OCC). The results of the competitive charity drive were announced at the FHS vs. SMHS football game on Friday, September 30.
According to FHS cheerleading coach, Jennifer Turner-Lynn, Franklin High School was the official winner of the charitable competition. The figures announced at the football game were that 3,400 boxes were collected for OCC. Turner-Lynn said that one FHS class alone collected over 400 boxes.
Taylor Brooks, 21, a Macon County college student, is a representative for the organization. Brooks said that he brought the idea before the proper school and community officials in both Franklin and Sylva in an effort to increase donations. The idea was readily accepted.
Turner-Lynn said that the competition did help to boost collections. “We already live in a very charitable community,” she said, “but the competition motivated our community to donate more than they normally would.” Turner-Lynn also said that FHS received a plaque to commemorate the achievement, but “working for something to benefit a non-profit was also very rewarding.”
OCC is an off-shoot of Samaritan’s Purse that sends shoe boxes filled with toys, school supplies, personal hygiene items and other supplies to needy children all across the United States as well as to 100 other countries. OCC volunteer June Trull said “We as Americans cannon imagine how some of these children have to live, most of the time without the simple things as having their own toothbrush or washcloth, or even their own cup to drink from.”
Turner-Lynn said that she hopes other non-profit organizations will approach them to help with fundraising and they will have an opportunity for another competition. “We are receptive to doing something like this again, but it depends on how the non-profit approaches us and how they may want to coordinate.”
Although the local competition is over, the fundraising continues. The deadline for the FHS/SMHS competition was September 21, but donations are always welcome for OCC and Samaritans Purse. Anyone interested in getting more involved can visit the Samaritan’s Purse website at www.samaritanspurse.org for more information, including how to pack a shoe box and what items are suggested to include in the gift boxes.