Coventry police officers and Central Coventry firefighters will face off against one another in a basketball game on Friday at 7 p.m. in the CHS gymnasium.
This marks the second year that the two public safety departments have competed for bragging rights while helping local residents in need. The game is also one of several charity events held in recent years, including a softball game that will be played again this spring.
Admission to Friday night's event is free of charge, however guests are asked to donate a non-perishable item to the Food Bank at the gymnasium's entrance when they arrive.
Food Bank Coordinator Stefanie Dugas explained that the food bank, located in the Family Health Services building at 191 MacArthur Boulevard, is in need of many items, especially "kid-friendly" products such as cereal, canned pasta and juice boxes. Apart from canned goods and food items, personal care items like shampoo, soap and toilet paper are also in demand.
The need for donations will be even greater as the summer draws near, as families with children do not benefit from the free or reduced price breakfasts and lunches offered during the school year, making this event even more important.
"Not only are the donations a huge help to us, but this is also a nice way for a family to come out, spend time together and watch a good game," said Dugas.
The game is looking to be an entertaining one for spectators as the firefighters attempt to hold on to their title after winning last year with a close 57-55 lead. The friendly rivalry between the two departments is even stronger this year after a friendly wager was made on Wednesday afternoon.
The losing team will donate $100 to the food bank, help prepare the bank's holiday food baskets and will also record their loss forever by posing for a post-game photo holding a sign declaring their love for their opponents that will appear on Coventry Patch. (Editor's Note: I may or may not have had a hand in that last one...)
When asked about the history of the competitions, CPD officer Rich Pendola, who is also the elderly liaison officer for the department, explained that the food bank was a good organization to play for as it is in the top three largest town departments, along with police and fire.
"We've always been pretty competitive and when we decided to play for a cause, this was definitely the best one that we could come up with," he said.
Both Pendola and Central Coventry Firefighters President David Gorman have high hopes for the outcome of Friday's event, referencing "secret weapons" and midnight practice sessions as keys to their success.
"We're going to win this year, I'm making that prediction," said Pendola on Wednesday afternoon.
"We don't need to practice, we're just polishing up," said Gorman later that same day. "We're going to win once again, that's no question."