Tamika Nastali, left, cheers as Madison Rixe successfully sinks a pumpkin in the “pool” leg of the relay. The girls were part of the Coupeville High School drama troupe that won for having the fastest relay time. Photo by Megan Hansen/Whidbey News-Times.

Team race to raise $12k for food bank

Relay teams raced their way to victory Saturday raising more than $12,000 for Gifts From the Heart Food Bank.

This was the 10th anniversary of the races that are traditionally held the second week in October and the last farmers market of the season.

Organizers decided to move up the races this year to avoid hard rains that have drenched participants the previous three years.

Six teams from Rosehip Farm, Kettle’s Edge Farm, Coupeville Lions Club, Coupeville High School’s drama troupe, Windermere and the Penn Cove Water Festival competed in a series of farm-inspired activities including racing shopping carts around the track and filling them with specific numbers of produce, playing pool with pumpkins, milking a cow and running to the finish holding an egg with a spoon.

In the end, the high school drama troupe came out on top with the fastest time. Rosehip raised the most money and new team Windermere was voted People’s Choice for their festive costume theme “Not in Season.”

The races are the only major fundraiser the foodbank holds each year, said Coupeville Mayor Molly Hughes, who also serves as food bank president.

The 2017 races raised $12,279 for a 10-year total of more than $111,000.

“That’s an amazing amount of money and support for your little food bank,” Hughes said.

Gifts From the Heart celebrated its 15th anniversary this year. The food bank started serving Central Whidbey residents in 2002 in a small space at Greenbank Farm. It moved to the old fire station on Main Street in 2005 where it shares space with the Coupeville Boys and Girls Club.

In 2016, the food bank served more than 2,300 households and nearly 6,000 individuals in Coupeville and Greenbank. More than 30 percent of the clients it served were infants to school-age children.

• For information about the food bank, go to www.giftsfromtheheart.com

Kettles Edge owner John Burks takes off against Coupeville Lion Teresa Ellis in the first leg of the relay. Photo by Megan Hansen/Whidbey News-Times

Windermere team member Sarah Erbe, right, tries to sink a pumpkin while team mate Cheryl Lueder cheers on. Photo by Megan Hansen/Whidbey News-Times

Jacklyn Allen with the Windermere team hands off a container to the judge to see if she’d milked enough from “Bessie.” Photo by Megan Hansen/Whidbey News-Times

Jackie Contreras with the Penn Cove Water Festival team heads toward the finish line carefully balancing a raw egg on a spoon. Photo by Megan Hansen/Whidbey News-Times

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