The Sherman and Denison independent school districts wrapped up their annual Battle of the Ax canned-food drive competition this week and all collections will soon head to area food banks, just in time for the holidays.

The friendly, two-week competition involved schools throughout both districts, many of which held their own competitions to drive up the number of cans donated. Official numbers weren’t immediately available Friday, but both schools hoped to out-do the previous year’s haul with Sherman shooting for 19,000 and Denison shooting for more than 22,000.

“It’s all to better the community,” Denison High School senior and Student Council Parliamentarian Courtney Gillespie said. “It is a competition and you do want to win, which makes you want to go out there and get more cans, but we’re doing this together.”

Gillespie explained that the student councils from both Denison High School and Sherman High School were responsible for organizing the competition and getting their fellow students to participate. To help with the latter, Gillespie said DHS students took a canned-food superhero to the younger schools. Sherman High senior and Student Council Community Service Chair Benjamin Boswell said his camp also had to get creative.

“Our theme this year is ‘knock out hunger,’” Boswell said. “We’ve been kind of going at it like a little boxing match. We’ve just been really trying to get the word out and have people bring cans to help out the community.”

SHS teacher Lorena Douglass, who assisted in the competition, said while the canned food drive wasn’t nearly as long running as the Battle of the Ax football game, the lesson it instilled in students was that the final score of the game isn’t as important as helping the people in the stands.

“It helps the kids learn the joy of giving to and helping others,” Douglass said. “It helps our community to be more stable and healthier.”

Douglass said the cans collected during the competition also go a long way for the receiving food banks, Helping Hands food pantry, North Texas Food Connection and Share Ministries.

DHS teacher and Student Council Advisor Jamie Dugan said there were no losers, only winners in the friendly competition. She added that the best prize of all for students was knowing that they may well help their own classmates.

“The thing I felt was most important to express to our students was that this goes toward feeding kids in our own communities,” Dugan said. “It’s not just about beating Sherman or just about beating Denison, it’s about making sure their fellow students can have food on their table.”