Valdosta Daily Times

December 15, 2013

Stocked Cart Race wins donations for hungry students

Stuart Taylor
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — Somewhere, in the middle of brainstorming event ideas to bring in food donations, the team at the Valdosta-Lowndes County Parks and Recreation Authority struck upon the idea of hosting a stock car race with shopping carts: a stocked cart race.

“We're a bunch of 5-year olds,” joked Sarah Pinson, VLPRA program director. "We wanted to give back with food and groceries, so what could be a better way than a shopping cart race.”

They decided to focus their efforts on Hunger at Home, a program dedicated to ensuring school children are getting full meals outside of school by sending them home with a backpack full of food at the end of the school week.

The VLPRA found a partner in Hobby Lobby, which offered to host the race and provide the carts, as well as handle the donated goods.

With entry fees made up of at least $25 in non-perishable canned goods, teams started registering at 9 a.m. at the Hobby Lobby Motorless Speedway, with six teams lining up: Lake Park Elementary, the Spanish Honors Society from Lowndes High School, the Young Adults Club, the Special Olympics Superstars, and two teams from the Valdosta Fire Department – the Pipers and the Big Hoses.

“The Fire Department jumped on it early,” said Jessica Catlett, VLPRA marketing director.

“They had a lot of fun with it.”

Each cart was decked out in designs ranging from a train to a wrapped gift to a lineup of superheroes from the Avengers movie.

With storm clouds looming, the races started at 10 a.m.

The six teams competed in a series of grueling face-offs followed by a three-way race, whittling down the entrants to a final two, the Spanish Honors Society and the Pipers.

The Spanish Honors Society and the Pipers found themselves cart and cart, having to execute a hairpin, 180-degree turn along rain-slicked asphalt, shoes sliding and legs pumping as they darted their carts toward the finish line.

In the end, it was the Pipers who emerged as the Stocked Cart Champion, with the Young Adults Club winning Best Team Costume, the Lake Park Elementary team receiving Best Cart Design, and the Spanish Honors Society winning Most Canned Goods Donated, bringing in 131 items to donate.

Catlett made a conservative estimate of the race garnering $350 worth of food donations.

“We are thrilled,” said Catlett.

“We plan to make it an annual event that expands each year.”