Stepping up to the ‘plate’

Published 12:39 pm Monday, October 1, 2018

AHOSKIE – In athletic competitions, there are winners and losers. But this year Ridgecroft School’s Athletic Association is facing a win-win situation. The local community has come together to help support both Ridgecroft athletics and flood victims still recovering from Hurricane Florence.

The Ahoskie-based private school’s Athletic Association holds a barbecue fundraiser at Homecoming each year. Proceeds from the annual plate sale go directly to supporting all aspects of the athletic program, including purchasing P.E. equipment and sports uniforms, paying officials, and covering travel expenses. In the past, the sale usually averages between 700-800 barbecue plates.

This year, however, many local businesses have also chosen to help support neighbors in the southern part of North Carolina who are still recovering from the devastation Hurricane Florence brought in mid-September. These local businesses along with several school alumni decided to purchase barbecue plates and then donate the food to people in Wilmington and Swansboro.

“The timing couldn’t have been better. I think a lot of people and business owners in our area were

An assembly line forms inside the Ridgecroft cafeteria as the plates are prepared for the event.

looking for a way to help flood victims because it could have easily been our own homes, stores, or farms that flooded,” said Claire Abshire, Director of Development and Marketing at Ridgecroft.

The school came up with the idea, she said, after seeing local food truck “Y’all Eat Yet?” do something similar where a corporate donor bought meals for the truck to deliver to flooded areas. The initiative at Ridgecroft kicked off with Southern Bank stepping up to the plate.

“None of this would have been possible without Southern Bank stepping up and ordering 500 plates,” Abshire said. “When we announced Southern Bank’s involvement on Facebook, businesses and alumni started calling, showing up at school and sending messages wondering how they could send plates.”

Abshire, who has only spent two weeks in her new role at Ridgecroft, said she was blown away by the response from the community.

“One Facebook post and a few of our parent volunteers is how this whole idea really took off, and it shows you what makes Ridgecroft and this community so special. Volunteers and businesses donate their time and resources year after year, and that’s how schools like Ridgecroft continue to exist and thrive,” she said.

Parents, grandparents, and other volunteers worked Thursday and Friday on campus to cook the barbecue and prepare the plates. A ring of pig-cookers and grills were set up outside the school cafeteria where volunteers were busy cooking and chopping. Inside, more volunteers coordinated to fill the plates with barbecue and all the fixings.

Smithfield Pork Production partnered with the school for the second year in a row to host the event.

More than 1,200 plates donated to flood victims were transported to sites in Wilmington and Swansboro on Friday morning. A couple of Ridgecroft parent volunteers drove down to make the deliveries. In Wilmington, food was distributed at a Presbyterian church with help from Southern Bank employees from the Wilmington branch. In Swansboro, a local Rotary club helped serve the plates.

“When we announced we had volunteers willing to deliver meals to the coast, the community realized it was an opportunity to support two worthy causes: Ridgecroft athletics and flood victims in our own state,” Abshire said.

That sounds like a win for everyone.