Betsy Layne High School hosted a unique Thanksgiving-themed donation drive this week.

The school invited community members and representatives from local businesses and organizations to donate a frozen turkey in exchange for the opportunity to win “bragging rights” in the 2019 BLHS Turkey Bowl.

Participants who donated a turkey for the drive helped feed dozens of families in need, and they also had the opportunity to compete in a three-person team bowling match, using frozen turkeys instead of bowling balls.

“It’s a three-man team. You come in and your entry fee is a turkey and, I’ve asked the community, staff and students to hit the mark and they hit it, so I’m tickled to death,” BLHS Principal Jody Roberts said.

Roberts said he hoped to receive enough donations for the school to provide 40 Thanksgiving meals to families in need this week, but the donations well exceeded that goal. He said the school received enough donations to help between 50 and 60 families.

Roberts came up with the idea for a Turkey Bowl last year, while searching for a way to help students in need during the holidays.

Local businesses and organizations — including the Floyd County Sheriff’s Department and the school district’s Central Office — donated turkeys that will be given to families this year, and students and staff have spent the past month donating side dishes to help these families prepare a Thanksgiving meal. Roberts said the school hosted a competition to see which class donated the most food each day.

Roberts said school staff donated three turkeys that were used as bowling balls at the event, which took place in front of the entire student body.

The students cheered on their favorite teams as the winning bowling teams were narrowed down in the competition. Participants included teams from BLHS, the Floyd County Shrine Club, Goodwill of Pikeville, Double Kwik, Great Clips of Pikeville, the Floyd County Sheriff’s Department, Floyd County Schools District, Betsy Layne Elementary School, Remax, Goodfellas Barber Shop and the University of Pikeville.

They competed in teams with names like, the “Good Gobblers” of Goodwill, the “Butterballs” from Double Kwik, the “Hair Clubbers” from Great Clips, “The Dirty Birds” from Remax and Goodfellas, “Poultry-geist” from UPike and, among others, “The Subs” and the “Wishbones” from BLHS. The BLHS team “Huntin’ Turkeys” won the competition.

The competition continued even after the wrappings peeled off of the frozen turkeys.

Roberts described the donation drive as a “win-win-win” for the students, saying that it not only helps families in need, but it also “builds character” for students and teaches students to have empathy for others.

“But the main thing is we get to have fun right before the holiday break. We get to feed, probably, 50 or 60 families with this, and it also teaches all of us, including the students at Betsy Layne, how to be empathetic and sympathetic to people’s that’s less fortunate,” Roberts said. “So, it’s a win, win, win situation.”

He said some of the donations came from students who work and used money they earned at work to buy items for families in need. Sharing that information, Roberts became teary-eyed, saying he’s “just very proud of Betsy Layne.”

“I just think it shows what type of character that we build here at Betsy Layne,” he said. “We want to people to think of others and to do for others because that’s what you should do.”

The families selected to receive the meals picked them up from the school on Wednesday. School officials also volunteered to delivered meals to some of them that evening.

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