Editor’s Note: This story was written by Ben Spicer, not Kevin Colley.
The impact that sports can have on a community extends far beyond the results on the field, the statistics and the winners and losers.
A prime example of that is the Blue Collar Football League’s West Portsmouth Tanks. The Tanks are playing in their season finale tonight, and boast an 8-1 record. The focus has shifted towards the playoffs, but the vision of giving back to the community remains the same.
Earlier this season, the Tanks were able to raise $1,000 in non-perishable donations to Pastor Gary Newman and the Sand Hill IPCC Food Pantry.
Tonight, the Tanks are partnerning with Miss West Jade Ratliff and WestMart for a clothing and school supplies drive.
“WestMart has been a great addition to not just our school, but our community,” Ratliff said. “It allows children of all ages in our community to be able to receive clothes and supplies when needed.”
WestMart is a free marketplace located in Portsmouth West Elementary for children in need who attend Portsmouth West schools. The shop, which provides clothing, school supplies and even non-perishable food items, was started last year by members of the Washington-Nile Local School’s central office.
Assistant Treasurer Christy Irwin, Records Secretary Mindy Platzer and Superintendent’s Secretary Lisa Hafer first came up with the idea. Irwin recalls that “We kept thinking about how we could help, and we decided that if we just had a place that’s stocked, anytime a teacher sees their kid doesn’t have proper clothing, they can just bring them down here and get whatever they want.”
Since the store opened, the support has been great. “Last year, we were even able to provide some Thanksgiving baskets with the help of some of our teachers,” Irwin said. She added that WestMart “gave out 50 Thanksgiving dinners and 30 Christmas dinners” to those who were in need.
With school starting soon, WestMart is busy trying to stock up on inventory to make sure no child is left out. “It’s our idea that we want our kids to come to school and be comfortable so that they can learn that day, or every day, rather than worrying about what they have on or what they don’t have on,” Irwin said.
WestMart is in need of school supplies currently, but will also accept gently worn clothing as well as non-perishable food items. Donations can be brought to the West Portsmouth Tanks game tonight at 7 pm. Children will receive free admission with a donation, and are encouraged to check out the inflatables provided at The Complex.
The Complex is located at 1420 13th Street in West Portsmouth. The game features the Butler County Broncos (5-2-1) against the West Portsmouth Tanks (8-1).