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Football challenge helping kids in need

Some high school football teams are taking the field Tuesday night in Schuylkill County. It will be as competitive as a fall Friday night, but much more important.

ASHLAND, Pa. — Six high school football squads from Schuylkill County are ready to show what they've got at the Schuylkill County United Way High School Football Challenge.

The events are meant to test players' speed, strength, and agility.

"Each event has a five-man team, and you have a certain amount of time to complete the event," said Matt Hirsch, Minersville Area High School assistant football coach and an event organizer. "I think it’s five minutes for tire flip, so you have five guys trying to get it over as many times as they can."

Minersville Area High School quarterback John Adams and wide receiver Jared Graeff are excited to take on the competition.

Graeff is looking forward to the farmer's carry.

"It’s two 50-pound dumbbells. I think it’s 20 yards or 40 yards," he said. "It’s like a relay."

What happens on the turf will lift students in need next school year.

The United Way is accepting donations to the Nurse's Pantry Program, a place elementary school students across the county can turn for everyday necessities.

School nurse Michele Turnitza said students at St. Clair Elementary and Middle School come up to her all the time.

"We have contents of personal items, clothing, hygiene items, undergarments, hand sanitizers," she said. "Anything and everything.

Turnitza said the pantry has been even more valuable over the last year, as nurses worked to assure every child's safety even when outside of school.

"After the year that we’ve had with the pandemic, incidents of homelessness as well as poverty on the rise, this helps keep the kids healthy and in school," Turnitza said.

Adams said it's a privilege to give back.

"Anything to help other kids feels good," the incoming senior said. "Especially kids from our school or any other school in the county, it just feels good to help the ones in need."

The challenge kicks off at North Schuylkill High School Tuesday at 5 p.m.

Tickets are available at the gate.

Players hope there will be plenty of fans to cheer them on as they help make a difference in the community.