Coventry firefighters and will compete against each other in a much anticipated basketball game at 7 p.m. Friday at the gym.
The game, that will support the Coventry Food Bank is one of several events put on by local law enforcement and emergency officials over the last few years, including a softball game and basketball games against Coventry teachers.
Admission to Friday night's event is free-of-charge, however guests are asked to donate a canned good to the Food Bank at the gymnasium's entrance when they arrive.
The event will prove to be an entertaining time for all that attend, especially because of the friendly rivalry between the two teams. The fire department beat the officers last year at a softball game that also supported the food bank and each team is looking to leave the high school on Friday night as the winner.
"They think they can win everything," joked Officer Rich Pendola. "It's going to be fun, but I want to win." Pendola said the officers have been practicing at the Flat River gym after their shifts are over in order to gain the upper hand. "We're ready and we're taking it pretty seriously and hoping for a good turnout," he said.
The firefighters seem to have the same outlook and are equally as excited to take on their opponents.
"The opportunity to pounce on the police department is an invitation we've been looking forward to for years," said Central Coventry Firefighters President David Gorman. "Pretty much everyone who isn't working that night is signed up to play and we'll try to rotate as many guys in as we can."
Pendola and Gorman both agree that they enjoy getting the opportunity to work together in support of such a good cause. "We try to do something every year and we work well together," said Gorman.
According to Food Bank Coordinator Stefanie Dugas, the food bank, located in the Family Health Services building at 191 MacArthur Boulevard currently services about 300 families with about 10-15 new families receiving support each month.
"Coventry is so wonderful as far as donations go," said Dugas. "The response is always very good."
Aside from community donations and the Police and Fire Department events, the Coventry Soccer Association also sponsors a tournament each year in support of the Bank. Local retailers BJ's Wholesale Club and Stop & Shop also donate food, but the need for more is always there.
Director of Human Services, Pat Shurtleff explained that the food bank tries to serve Coventry residents in need "as best we can and as respectfully as possible," and try to help families keep as much normalcy as possible in their day-to-day lives.
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.
"Between the police and fire departments, they're very supportive of what we do," said Shurtleff.
Friday night's game will begin at 7 p.m. and spectators should plan to arrive after 6:15 p.m. at the main entrance to the CHS gymnasium (next to the upperclassmen cafeteria.) Donations of canned goods are requested in lieu of an admission fee.