When Rocky River High School student Rob Hendricks was in eighth grade, he knew he wanted to do something to help those in need.
“After football practice one day I saw a poster for Volley for the Cure. I wasn’t sure what it was, but I got to thinking about how we could include (philanthropy) in the middle school student council,” the current sophomore, 15, said in a recent interview.
Discovering that Volley for the Cure was a high school volleyball fundraiser for cancer that began in 2006, Hendricks enlisted the aid of fellow student council members Maddie Cook and Maddie Fitzsimmons, plus faculty advisor Peg Liberatore, to come up with their own fundraiser. Liking the sound of “Hoops for Hunger,” the students decided to give it a shot and have scored big.
Hendricks timed the drive to coincide with the annual Rocky River – Bay Village varsity boys’ basketball game. “We tried to choose a game that was an intense rivalry. We thought about Fairview, but we wanted a bigger game,” he recalled. He explained that during the first few weeks of February, students at the middle schools and high schools of both districts are encouraged to bring in nonperishable food items and money for the Cleveland Food Bank.
Although the two districts, especially the high schoolers, compete to see who can bring in the most money or food items, Hendricks said it’s more about coming together to support a worthy cause. “Last year we (Rocky River) won the drive and the game, but it’s not about who wins. It’s about coming together through the competition, and fueling our students to donate,” he said.
Since Liberatore had a family connection at SportsTime Ohio, the group was able to get the game televised on the station. Last year 4,000 food items and $21,000 was collected, with STO donating $750 in the winning school’s name and $250 in the name of the runner-up. Giant Eagle also sponsors the event.
Hendricks, who is currently student council treasurer and a member of the football and baseball teams, hopes “Hoops” will go on after he graduates. “We’ll try to educate the younger people coming up,” he said, adding that he may try to keep in touch, depending on where college plans take him. He said his dream school is the University of Michigan.
He urges any students with ideas like his to follow through. “Dream big. A lot of ideas are out there. Don’t be afraid of something bigger than you,” he advised.