As the old rivalry between Nixa and Ozark heats up to a boiling point, efforts to help food insecure persons in Christian County are renewed.

The Backyard Brawl rivalry football game between the Ozark Tigers and the Nixa Eagles falls during September, which is Hunger Action Month. Least Of These Christian County food pantry hopes the community will be generous coming off of a 10-day fundraising campaign in August that resulted in more than $10,000 in donations.

Least Of These conducted a campaign called “$20 for 10 days” from Aug. 19-29 to drum up online donations. The food pantry received a $3,000 matching donation from Youngblood Auto Group along with a matching donation from Wells of Joy Church, resulting in a net gain of $10,615 in 10 days.

Through its partnership programs, Least Of These is able to purchase $10 worth of food for every $1 that is donated, so $10,000 can fund up to $100,000 in food purchases.

Leading up to the kickoff on Sept. 20, Least Of These encourages football fans to take part in the annual Can the Tigers/Can the Eagles dueling food drives. The team that raises the most food donations for Least of These is named the winner.

To raise the stakes this year, Nixa Mayor Brian Steele and Ozark Mayor Rick Gardner added an additional challenge to this fundraiser. Each mayor will be raising funds for Least Of These through a donation button on his respective mayoral Facebook page. The donations will be counted towards their respective teams’ food drive. 

The mayor who wins the challenge by raising the most funds for the food pantry by kickoff of the Backyard Brawl will be deemed the champion, and the losing mayor will be forced to present a championship belt to his foe at a chamber of commerce meeting in either Ozark or Nixa following the big game.

In July 2019, Least Of These distributed more than 85,000 pounds of food. In June, it accounted for 87,709 pounds of food going out to 2,282 people. Those interested in donating or volunteering can find more information on the organization’s website, http://www.leastofthesefoodpantry.org/.

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