UA, Auburn University face off in local food drive competitionBy Maddy Ard | 11/24/2014 11:41pm
Many believe there are negative aspects of this matchup that have taken over what is meant to be a sportsmanlike competition, the tensions of a light-hearted game often ramping up for an all-out brawl. An example was the poisoning of the iconic Toomer’s Corner oak trees in Auburn.
Some people and organizations have taken notice of these negative aspects and have begun working to improve relations between the two universities.
Twenty percent of families in the nine counties of West Alabama live under the poverty line, including 17,806 children. The Beat Auburn, Beat Hunger food drive competition began in 1994 as an attempt to eliminate hunger in West Alabama by challenging UA and AU to see who can collect more cans of non-perishable food for the West Alabama Food Bank.
The competition traditionally begins in October, and students and faculty members continue to donate cans until the Iron Bowl at the end of November.
Since 1994, the two universities have collected over 3 million pounds of food for Alabamians.
“It’s a really easy way to get involved,” said Maggie McGuire, a freshman majoring in political science. “It’s neat that we’re using this rivalry to do something that makes a difference. I’m glad both schools can look beyond football to work together like this.”
In addition to BABH, the student bodies of the two universities have worked together in times of distress. Following the poisoning of the Auburn oak trees, the SGA bodies of Alabama and Auburn met together and decided to plant “unity trees” as sister trees on both campuses to remind the students of that day, and to demonstrate that the rivalry between these two schools should be left on the football field.
“It’s a terrible thing that AU had to deal with,” said Candace von Hoffman, a freshman majoring in nursing. “My first thought was, ‘What if something like that had happened to Denny Chimes?’ I’m proud that my school was willing to look beyond a petty rivalry to reach out to Auburn when their student body needed it.”
After the tornadoes of April 27, 2011, Auburn and Alabama student came together to help clean up the damage. Auburn student Warren Tidwell created the Facebook page “Toomer’s for Tuscaloosa” for those wanting to help people affected by the tornadoes in Tuscaloosa.
“For something like this, we are not Alabama fans. We are not Auburn fans,” Tidwell said in a 2011 article on NCAA.com. “We are human beings helping each other.”
Kaitlin Moncus, a freshman at Auburn University majoring in political science, said the Iron Bowl is a special event for the state, but that it is still just a football rivalry when circumstances become more dire.
“In our most desperate moments, all that matters is that we are both citizens of the same state of Alabama and need to look out for one another,” she said.