Hoops tourney benefits community

Published 11:26 am Friday, November 28, 2008

Booker T. Washington Elementary School’s gymnasium was buzzing Tuesday night, well beyond normal school hours.

The school was hosting the championship games of the 23rd Annual Canned Food Drive and Thanksgiving Basketball Tournament sponsored by the East Suffolk Federated Civic League.

“It’s kind of exciting and pretty much rewarding to see people in the community come together for two or three days and actually get to mingle and watch some youth and some adults from the community participate in sports … kind of like a family day out,” William C. Goodman, the tournament director said.

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Tuesday night, both the girls’ all-star game and the men’s championship were held. While the Girls’ Suffolk Parks and Recreation team was victorious over the Metropolitan Baptist Church team and the Men’s Oak Grove team won over the Style Shop Super Stars team, it was ultimately the East Suffolk community that really won.

The tournament raised about $800, a portion of which will be donated to the Suffolk Rescue Squad.

Additionally, all players and spectators were asked to bring a canned food item each day of the tournament. All of the donated food will be given to the Salvation Army, the Suffolk Homeless Shelter and the STOP Organization.

“The civic league is always at work trying to think of ways to better the local community to make this community a little closer knit and a more fun-filled city to live in,” Goodman said. “This is something we enjoy doing each year.”

The tournament is an annual tradition, started more than two decades ago by the East Suffolk Federated Civic League in order to try and raise money for the East Suffolk community.

“When it first started, the civic league members wanted to do something different to raise money for charities, but they wanted to do something that would really get the community’s attention to participate instead of just going door to door,” Goodman said. “They decided to come up with a basketball event, and it just went from there.”

This year, the tournament began Saturday, Nov. 22 and continued until Tuesday night. The tournament attracted mostly teams from Suffolk, but one team came all the way from Virginia Beach to play.

“They liked it a lot,” Goodman said of the out-of-town guests. “They enjoyed coming here to participate. Hopefully they’ll be back next year.”