I apologize to anyone who’s had to listen because I’ve been talking about meatballs for months now, but no worries, all of the meatballs have been consumed. These last couple of weeks my thoughts have been consumed with red sauce (gravy for you Italian folk), ground pork, ground hamburger and all the other special ingredients my meatball rolling crew is privy to know.
It’s that time of year, football season has started, the teams have been drafted and the fundraisers are finally complete. For those of you who don’t know, my love for youth football has driven me to sheer madness. For the last six years I have taken on the responsibility of making homemade meatballs for hundreds of people.
Of course, just like any other massive fundraiser, I have a crew of super-moms that chip in and help serve on the night of the dinner, but leading up to it is pretty stressful—if you can imagine coming up with 100 pounds of ground hamburger, 100 pounds of ground pork (Thanks, John’s Super).
I suppose we have to start at the beginning to even try to make it make sense to you readers. Our local youth football league has a little over 80 football players and nearly 60 cheerleaders in it. Over the years I have found that it’s a whole lot easier to ask each parent to donate a single item, rather than ask for money. That being said, I take each team and split it up into what I know I need to feed about 400 people, which is how huge our fundraiser has gotten over the last few years.
For instance, I know we need about 35 packages of hoagie buns, so I split it up and ask every third grader to bring one package. The same thing goes for Parmesan cheese and a number of other ingredients (no, I’m not telling).
The tricky part is trying to get all of these things donated and delivered by the deadline so that I know whether or not I need to come up with anything else. Luckily enough, this year our football and cheer parents did an outstanding job and not much had to be purchased.
The entire time these items are being brought to practice, I have a great group of football moms that help me collect the groceries and load them in my car. Once loaded I take everything home and unload and keep it in my kitchen. Yes, for several weeks leading up to the meatball dinner my house looks like an Italian smorgasbord waiting to be cooked.
The week of the dinner the stress really kicks in. Two days before, I grab a group of moms and we load as much stuff as possible into our vehicles and make several trips to the Elks lodge to unload into their kitchen, which is where we spend the next 48 hours.
The following morning there is a specialized group of four parents that hit the kitchen first thing in the morning. Twenty pounds at a time we mix, hand roll and bake 200 pounds of meatballs. Yes, I said hand roll. By 10 p.m. we are ready to sit down and take a break.
I do have to say this much. If it weren’t for the four people in the kitchen rolling the meatballs, the following night wouldn’t be a success.
Last Friday night the Excelsior Springs Football Association crowded the Elks lodge. Every football player and cheerleader, their parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters and everyone else you can think of made it to the lodge in support of our cause. It was absolutely amazing.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. These little boys and girls are the future of our town. One town, one team, one goal. I’m proud to be a Tiger and Friday night the families of these kids felt it too. Thanks for everyone’s help.
By Jae Juarez • firstname.lastname@example.org