Annual hoagie sale set to raise awareness and funds for local families in need

With less than two weeks until the event, Orchard Valley Middle School presented an assembly on the importance of selling hoagies.

The cast of the Orchard Valley Middle School assembly posed with the gabagool goblet, a trophy that is awarded to the school with the most hoagie sales.

More than 400 volunteers are expected at Washington Township’s Helping Hands Hoagie Sale, held annually on Super Bowl Sunday. This year marks the 22nd anniversary of the event, which raises funds to help local families in need with serious medical conditions, and homelessness in the area.

The Changing Our World Project, middle school Future Acts club members, high school Students In Action members, along with student athletes, principals, teachers and parents will volunteer in the making and selling of the sandwiches.

“Washington Township is a generous, compassionate community with a huge heart. Since all of the recipients are local, many members of the community know the families personally, and I think it makes a difference to know exactly where the proceeds are going,” said Maddy La Voe, Orchard Valley Middle School Future Acts Club advisor.

The event will begin at 6 a.m. at Orchard Valley Middle School where hundreds of volunteers will make thousands of hoagies in an assembly line, according to La Voe. At 9 a.m., the event will move to Washington Township High School where student volunteers will distribute pre-orders and student athletes will sell hoagies on the street throughout town.

This year, the hoagie sale has partnered with Hoagies for Humanity, sponsored by Inspira Hospital, to expand their reach in donating hoagies to homeless shelters. In addition to Hoagies for Humanity, hundreds of hoagies are donated through grants paid for by the Washington Township Education Association, Pay It Forward and Helping Hands.

“Although we have always donated hoagies to the homeless, this year, we have Hoagies for Humanity. We should be able to donate more hoagies than ever to homeless shelters and those in need,” La Voe said.

Other changes this year include more local business sponsors, acceptance of online orders and the addition of prize incentives for pre-orders.

To raise awareness, Orchard Valley Middle School held an assembly last week featuring the “gabagool goblet,” a large trophy that is awarded to the school that sells the most hoagies.

Three contestants, teachers Jeff Snyder, Zach Velykis and Whitman Elementary School Principal Ray Anderson, competed in a wing-eating contest. The winner’s beauty contestant partner, played by teachers Alyssa Campanini, Melissa Bamaca and Diana Smierciak, would be crowned as “Miss Gabagool.” A fourth contestant, “Maria,” played by teacher Ron Lucarini, interrupted the contest, but won based on “her” beauty.

Hosts of the assembly, Special Education Administrator Joe Hoopes and Student Data Coordinator Charlie Doud, reminded the crowd the importance of the hoagie sale and why the town participates every year.

“This tradition of a hoagie sale has so much meaning to our community, that it has been nationally recognized for the efforts that our students, our community members and our teachers and administration put forth to help people that are, most of the times, in a fight for their lives,” Hoopes said.

“Our angels are expecting us, and demanding us, to go out, get our friends, parents and family to buy as many hoagies as possible, and to do it early,” Doud said. “We want to set a record like never before.”

Other ways of raising awareness include the annual video that is released on The Cow Project website, highlighting families who will benefit from this year’s sales, as well as the participation from students in the middle and elementary schools in the Collette Bleisteine Pay it Forward initiative, pledging to “Pay it Forward” and creating a heart, which will be displayed on posters at the event.

“Teachers and our district administration have also really helped to raise awareness by talking to students, sending out e-mails and text messages, and promoting throughout the schools,” La Voe said.

Last year, the sale raised $43,000 for 24 families, reaching $548,000 in all-time funds raised.

Two-foot hoagies are on sale for $10, and hoagie trays to feed parties of 10 to 12 people are available for $50. Pre-orders must be made by Thursday, Feb. 2. To place an order, contact La Voe at (856) 582–5353, ext. 5709 or email mlavoe@wtps.org. For more information, visit www.thecowproject.com.