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Powder Puff football returns to aid hurricane victims

By Courtney Llewellyn

Reminder Assistant Editor

EAST LONGMEADOW It is time once again for the East Longmeadow High School Key Club's Powder Puff football game, where the girls take the field and the boys lead the cheers.

All funds raised from admission and concession sales will go directly to the American Red Cross for the organization's Disaster Relief Fund.

According to Jonathan Gregalis, president of the East Longmeadow Key Club, the club came up with the idea for the Powder Puff football game over 20 years ago and has been hosting it every other year since.

"We continue to hold the game because it gives the members of the Key Club the chance to organize a big scale fundraiser," Gregalis said. He added that it also brings students, teachers, family members and the town together for a fun night and the chance to support a great cause.

The entire Key Club decided to donate proceeds from the evening to the Red Cross because they felt they were helping those outside community boundaries. "We were reaching out to those in the Gulf Coast whose homes had been ravaged by hurricanes Faye, Gustav and Ike," Gregalis explained. The club had initially decided to donate proceeds to the Red Cross in general, but after speaking with Red Cross representative Paige Thayer, they decided to concentrate their donation into the Disaster Relief Fund, which purchases food, water, temporary shelter and everyday necessities.

"All the work [at the game] is really done by the [club] members," Marilyn Burke, faculty advisor to the Key Club, said. In the past, their work has benefited homeless shelters in Springfield, the Whispering Horse Therapeutic Center in East Longmeadow and most recently, the "Buckle Up for Brianna" Fund, in memory of Brianna Donovan, a student from the high school who was killed the day before starting her senior year.

In the upcoming months, the Key Club will be walking and raising money for the Kidney Walk, CROP Walk and Rays of Hope as well as collecting money for UNICEF around Halloween and donating Thanksgiving meals to those in need.

The Powder Puff football game will feature Rachel McCandlish, a junior at the high school, singing the National Anthem, baked goods donated by Panera Bread and a halftime show and contest in which the male cheerleaders will compete for a crown, sash and prize.

Tickets to the game are $5 each and will be sold at the gate. The game will take place at 6 p.m. on the high school's football field.