AHS students raise over $1,400 for food banks


Staff Writer

ALLENTOWN – When the Allentown High School golf team announced plans to attend the 2007 Palmetto High School Golf Championships April 5-7 in Myrtle Beach, S.C., it knew that raising the nearly $10,000 needed for the trip would be a challenge.

However, the team soon discovered that there were lots of people willing to help it get on I-95 south come April. After realizing the community was behind them, team members found themselves at a summer barbecue talking about the trip and spurting out ideas about how they could give back to those who are supporting their endeavor, according to Bruce Novozinsky, of the Allentown High School Parents Golf Association (AHSpga).

The team decided to sell golf hats sporting the Redbird and Cream Ridge Golf Club logos as a tribute to the generosity shown to its members over the years. The team also planned to hold a raffle with prizes ranging from a 17-piece golf club set to Nike golf balls, hats and shirts.

When the team announced that 10 percent of all the proceeds from the sale and the raffle would go toward feeding three local families in need for Thanksgiving, what came next was unexpected, according to Novozinsky.

No sooner did the team announce the fundraiser than donations started pouring in. Support for the food drive became so overwhelming that the AHSpga and coach Doug Hunt were approached by AHS’ baseball coach Brian Nice and Student Council adviser Pat Sweeney to team up in the effort, Novozinsky said.

The initial idea of assisting three families for Thanksgiving actually turned into providing eight families with Thanksgiving dinner, four families with Christmas dinner and enough food left over to supply three local food banks with goods to feed an additional 10 families. The original $300 that the golf team set out to collect for local food banks ultimately turned out to be more than a $1,400 contribution, Novozinsky said.

Two golf team members’ mothers, Maryann Switlik and Terri Nafus, noted that while people are very generous during the traditional holiday months, the real need is throughout the others. People are still going hungry year-round, they said, when the spirit of giving is not at the forefront. Thus, the golf team and its supporters met to set a plan in motion to try to change that.

“With the Student Council onboard and the A-Town baseball organization involved,” Novozinsky said, “it was decided that we would fulfill our commitments to the food banks for the holidays and then make a follow-up donation in May 2007, or as needed and requested by the food banks we are now affiliated with.”

Once this decision was made, the Student Council took over the project. Sara DeMonte, AHS’ 2006 homecoming queen and the Student Council’s public relations liaison, approached Novozinsky and told him to leave the rest up to her. She and council President Christina Hart coordinated food pickup, publicity for the event and the outreach to the community, according to Novozinsky.

Novozinsky said that Hunt, AHS athletic director Brian Irwin and AHS Principal Christopher Nagy have high expectations for the golf team members both on the course and off.

“In his somewhat quiet demeanor, coach Hunt let it be known that in order to receive they had to give,” Novozinsky said. “The boys did. They exceeded their goals for hat selling (selling over 130 hats), and the raffle was a success.”

Novozinsky said the team originally estimated that the fundraising efforts for its Palmetto trip would take about five months, but it achieved its financial goals as of Christmas Eve.

“The team thanks everyone who contributed, and [it] will represent the school and community well in South Carolina,” Novozinsky said. “They have worked hard over the winter months.”

In order for the team to be able to practice during the winter, Novozinsky said that one team member’s family gave up their two-car garage and installed a professional golf simulator that team members have already taken advantage of. For additional practice, several team members also competed in local, state and international tournaments to hone their games, he said.

“The mild winter so far has extended their course time at Cream Ridge and Knob Hill as well,” Novozinsky said. “And the management at both courses has been outstanding to them.”

Whatever the outcome is of the 2007 season, Novozinsky said the golf and baseball teams, along with members of the Student Council, have already made an impact that won’t be read on any sports pages.

“As I’ve said countless times, these are good kids doing good things – and once again, they proved it,” Novozinsky said.

“This,” he added, “was a cross-section effort of student-athletes and student government that came together and made a lot of people forget their problems for a few hours – and asked nothing in return.”