As NASCAR fans pour into the Tri-Cities for next week’s night races at Bristol, they’ll find a number of charitable competitions already running for dozens of nonprofit children’s agencies and two Second Harvest food banks at work in the Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia region.
Food City, the Abingdon, Va.-based sponsor of Aug. 26’s Food City 250, kicked off its annual drive against hunger for Second Harvest on Monday and will continue the “food and funds drive” through Aug. 28.
Collection bins for donations of nonperishable food items are located at the stores’ entrances, and $1, $3 and $5 food vouchers for the food banks are available for purchase at the checkout counters.
The most needed items include canned meats, vegetables and fruits, peanut butter, beans, rice, pasta, cereals and other dry and canned goods.
Since 2007, the number of individuals served by Second Harvest in the eight counties of Northeast Tennessee has increased by a staggering 47 percent — up to 36,000 people last month. The food bank distributed food to an average of 32,000 people each month in 2010 and has seen an 11 percent increase in the number of individuals in need so far this year.
To meet the need, Second Harvest needs food and monetary donations to purchase food. By buying in bulk and at discounts from food distributing supporters like Food City, the food banks stretch every $1 donated into approximately 5 meals for the hungry. So by giving just a little, Food City hopes the 160,000 NASCAR fans coming to Bristol and those stocking up for race parties at home will help the food banks a great deal.
Because one in six Tennesseans goes to bed hungry every night and because many of them are seniors who are choosing between paying for food or medicine or paying their utility bills, Jeff Gordon, the four-time Sprint Cup Champion and five-time winner at Bristol, Gordon’s team owner Hendrick Motorsports, AARP and the AARP Foundation are bringing their “Drive to End Hunger” to Bristol. Gordon’s No. 24 AARP Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet show car will be at the Food City store on Clinchfield Street in Kingsport from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.
WCQR will be broadcasting live from the store, and Kingsport Mayor Dennis Phillips will be among the special guests on hand to cheer on the Food City shoppers as they contribute to the drive or spin a prize wheel for a “Drive to End Hunger” swag bag.
The Drive Against Hunger campaign also offers fans a special Jeff Gordon AARP grandstand ticket package for the Aug. 27 IRWIN Tools 500 at Bristol. The package includes a question-and-answer session with Gordon, a Bristol Motor Speedway 50th anniversary Jeff Gordon poster, a “Drive to End Hunger” hat and a $4 donation to Second Harvest for every ticket package sold. The package is $124 and may be purchased by calling the ticket office at 423-BRISTOL or 866-415-4158.
AARP Tennessee State President Margot Seay, who lives in Kingsport, said, “The stories we hear from our Tri-Cities neighbors about their struggles to feed their families and themselves are simply heartbreaking. We really encourage folks to give whatever they can to help their neighbors and help us all leave hunger in the dust.”
More information about the campaign and the threat of hunger faced by 6 million older Americans is available online at www.drivetoendhunger.org.
What many NASCAR drivers and fans consider the most exciting week in racing will kick off Monday at noon with the 13th Annual Speedway Children’s Charities Golf Tournament at Tri-Cities Golf Course, 2354 Feathers Chapel Road, Blountville. The tournament is one of largest fundraisers of the year for the local Speedway Children’s Charities chapter and features a four-person, captain’s choice format and a shotgun start.
Companies may enter a team for $600 or enter a team and sponsor a hole for $675. Whole sponsorships include the company’s sign on the tee or hole, cart and green fees, goody bags, lunch, dinner and beverages for all team members.
The entry fee for individual golfers is $150 and also includes cart and green fees, a goody bag, lunch, dinner and beverages. Prizes include a $5,000 hole-in-one challenge.
And all proceeds go to the dozens of nonprofit child service organizations in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia assisted by Speedway Children’s Charities. To enter or for more information, call Barbara Kaiser-Pigg at 989-6975 or email email@example.com.
On Tuesday, team owner Richard Childress’ grandson, NASCAR truck series driver Austin Dillon, and his dad, Mike Dillon, will be shooting for Speedway Children’s Charities at a benefit tournament hosted by the Shooters Edge Indoor Range and Training Center, located a few miles south of the track off U.S. Highway 11E at 413 Century Court, Piney Flats.
The Shooting Stars Tournament is a new event for Speedway Children’s Charities and is open to shooters of all skill levels. Participants will be placed on four-person teams and all will have the opportunity to shoot with the Dillons.
The entry fee is $100 and includes training, use of a .22-caliber handgun, ammunition, dinner and an opportunity to shoot a fully automatic weapon. The tournament begins at 4 p.m.
Participants may register online at www.bristol.speedwaycharities.org.
For sponsorship information, call Kaiser-Pigg at 989-6975 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If there is a need or a project in your neighborhood the Good Neighbor column can assist with, large or small, contact Sue Guinn Legg at email@example.com, P.O. Box 1717, Johnson City, TN 37605 1717 or 929-3111, ext. 335.