To the sounds of the band playing Christmas tunes like “Jingle Bells” and “O Come All Ye Faithful,” Wellborn students marched into the John Adcock Gym Monday afternoon, carrying basket after basket filled with canned goods, boxes of rice, pudding packets and ramen noodles.
In all, the piles of food dropped off in the gym were enough to feed more than 140 families, said Nancy Haynes, Wellborn’s faculty advisor for Abundant Life, the student Christian group that organized the can drive. Last year, the drive fed 15 families, and a goal was set this year for 20, but Haynes said on Dec. 1 that things weren’t looking great. That’s when Wellborn Principal Rick Carter said he’d shave his head if the students could feed 50 families.
Things picked up a little after that.
By noon Friday, more than 70 boxes were full, but the biggest spike took place that afternoon and Monday as students nearly doubled that effort in less than two days.
“We were just very blessed to be able to do this,” said Wellborn senior and Abundant Life co-president Phat Trinh. “Most of this is God’s blessing.”
The enthusiasm could also be attributed to an announcement Friday that if students got to 125 boxes, guidance counselor Todd Ford would throw his hat, or hair, in the ring and have his head shaved as well.
“That’s when it got crazy,” Haynes said. “It started raining food.”
Haynes said Ford’s haircut was about as famous as pop star Justin Bieber’s to the students at Wellborn, while Milton Ford, a friend of the guidance counselor and the man who shaved his locks, just called it “a great head of hair.”
“Or at least it was,” the barber said before the ceremony Monday. “It’s going to be gone in a few minutes.”
“He’s really particular about his hair,” said Judd Smith, a Wellborn senior and co-president of Abundant Life. “He was sweating when he heard we got to 100.”
And he was still sweating Monday, sitting in a chair in the center of the gymnasium as the principal’s head was being shaved just a foot away.
“It’s very nerve-wracking,” Ford said, touching his hair. “But we try and set a good example for the community and the kids.”
A loud cheer erupted from the gym the second the clippers hit Carter’s hair. But it was nothing compared to the cheer Carter got when he stood up, head shaved, and returned the favor to the guidance counselor.
“I tell you what,” Carter yelled over the students. “200 next year, and we’ll do coach Smith,” a reference to Wellborn football coach Jeff Smith.
Prior to the shaving, Smith denied rumors he’d shave his head, but “gray fox,” as the coach is known to his students, pumped his fists along to the chants of “coach Smith.”
To top off the shaving, Carter and Assistant Principal Rusty Thrasher each took pies to the face delivered by members of the student council.
“It was worth it, I’d do this 50 times if we could feed more families,” Carter said while wiping whipped cream from his face. “This is a great community service, and anytime we can trade hair for food and little cream, we’ll do it.”
Staff Writer Brian Anderson: 256-235-3546. On Twitter @BAnderson_Star.