A friendly battle off the ice is playing out between two community groups in High Country.
For the second holiday season in a row High Country Minor Hockey and the Foothills Skating Club are squaring off for the Battle of the Blades – a charity initiative to raise donations for the Oilfields Food Bank.
High Country launched the battle last year, challenging its peers in the figure skating world.
“They really wanted to do something to give back to the community at this time of year and we both share the Oilfields Arena as our home base,” said Foothills Skating Club president Karla Powell. “It made sense to run the challenge between the two organizations.
“It’s part of the Foothills Skating Club mandate to give back to the community in some way whether that’s through volunteering or this type of initiative. It just made sense to carry forward from last year.”
Minor hockey edged out the skaters in terms of goods donated in year one of the challenge.
“We’re doing it definitely as a friendly rivalry,” Powell said. “There is a little bit of trash-talking going on between the two clubs, but we both recognize the big winner is the food bank.”
That doesn’t mean there isn’t a healthy level of competition going on.
This is athletics, after all.
“We want to have some fun with it and if you make a challenge of it people get more involved than they would through just coming and donating,” said High County Minor Hockey president Joe Fenton. “It’s a little bit of a competition, we got a little bit of a late start, but over the next couple weeks we’re going to have to get going hardcore on it.”
The 2016 event produced 1,027 items and $40 for the Oilfields Food Bank.
“This friendly competition is great for our little communities as some families have siblings playing both hockey and figure skating,” said Kari Meyer, one of the organizers on the High Country Minor Hockey side. “For team building, last year our Atom team organized a BBQ and did a food drive within Black Diamond. It was great to see these kids learning about helping others, and seeing the giving nature of our community.
“We were absolutely amazed by the kindness and donations from everyone, it was literally truck loads of food that was delivered, and we would love to surpass that this year.”
Both associations have labelled bins at the Oilfields Arena in Black Diamond for drop-off.
The food drive battle runs until Dec. 21 at which point the associations will tally the items and drop them off at the Oilfields Food Bank.
“We’ve put out calls to our membership to bring in those food bank donations,” Powell said. “We do that via our weekly e-mails to membership, signage on our poster boards and last year it worked very well.
“We’ve just launched it, but we think the response in the community is going to be great. We have returning families to both of our organizations and they would have the history of it from last year. Our community is very supportive of our local food bank and I don’t think it’s going to be any problem to throw a couple spare cans and bring it to the arena for us.”