Saginaw Valley State University's annual Battle of the Valleys fundraising competition will kick off Sunday, Sept. 24. For the 15th consecutive year, the students of SVSU and Grand Valley State University will go head-to-head to see who can raise the most money for their respective charity partners. The fundraiser concludes Saturday, Sept. 30, when the rival football teams face off at 7 p.m. at GVSU's Lubbers Stadium.
This year, the funds SVSU raises - through several activities and events scheduled throughout the week - will benefit the Saginaw-based Mustard Seed Shelter.
"We chose The Mustard Seed because they're a grass-roots organization that helps women and children in Saginaw who are dealing with homelessness," said Caitlin Coulter, a pre-medicine major from Clio and this year's Battle of the Valleys chair for SVSU.
"The money this year will be going towards an addition that will help them double the amount of women they can serve at their homeless shelter."
SVSU has already cultivated a strong relationship with the organization, particularly through the social work initiative where The Mustard Seed Shelter provides field placements for students in the program.
In addition to supporting a good cause, the two universities battle it out for at least one year's worth of bragging rights and the chance to take home the 3-foot-tall trophy known as "Victoria." The trophy has remained on SVSU's campus for nine consecutive years.
One of the big events scheduled for this year's Battle of the Valleys competition is the newly-added fire truck pull. This event will take place Tuesday, Sept. 26 at 4 p.m. on the campus' Collings Drive, between parking lots J2 and J3. The event is being organized by SVSU's Peer Health Education program.
Teams of 10 will compete to see who can pull a fully-loaded fire truck 40 feet in the fastest time. Cost to participate is $5 per person.
Other fundraising opportunities throughout the week will include the Kick-Off Cookout which will take place on Sunday, Sept. 24. In hopes of taking advantage of the warm weather, the kickoff party will be held in the campus courtyard this year.
"We'll be having pizza and there will be lots of yard games," Coulter said.
Buffalo Wild Wings and Stardust Lanes have also agreed to host fundraising events during Battle of the Valleys week. On Monday, Sept. 25, students and community members can bring in a Battle of the Valleys fundraising flyer to Buffalo Wild Wings. A portion of the meal cost will benefit The Mustard Seed Shelter.
Stardust Lanes will host a bowling night Friday, Sept. 29 from 9 p.m. to midnight. The cost is $15 per ticket, which will include three hours of bowling and a shoe rental. The full $15 charge will benefit The Mustard Seed Shelter. The week's fundraising competition will close at midnight.
Between SVSU and GVSU, the universities have raised a combined total of $552,150 since the competition started in 2003. SVSU has contributed $357,329 of that total, raising $26,000 for Hidden Harvest during last year's competition.
"What's great about SVSU is the community and how everyone comes together for a purpose," Coulter said. "This year's purpose is to help The Mustard Seed, so we're really excited about that."
The winner of the 2017 Battle of the Valleys contest will be announced during halftime of the football game between SVSU and GVSU.
For more information about Battle of the Valleys, visit www.svsu.edu/battleofthevalleys/.