And the winner of the Cereal Bowl is … both the Barberton and Stow courts.
The courts began an epic battle two weeks ago to see which could collect the most boxes of cereal to donate to the Battered Women’s Shelter.
When the contest concluded at the close of business Friday, Barberton Judge David Fish and Stow Judge Kim Hoover decided to declare a joint victory. They weren’t sure of the proper ground rules for tallying the many boxes, multiboxes and bags piled up at each courthouse — and wanted to avoid involving attorneys if one side or the other demanded a recount.
“It was going to be real expensive,” Fish said, chuckling. “We don’t want to have hanging Cheerios!”
The two courts together collected more than 1,800 boxes of cereal and $3,500 in cash and gift cards — a response that far exceeded the judges’ expectations.
“We’re all just tickled to death,” Hoover said.
Terri Heckman, who heads the shelter, is also pleased and plans to share the cereal bounty with other local agencies, including ACCESS and Haven of Rest.
“The Battered Women’s Shelter is basically speechless about the final outcome,” she said. “We are blessed to be a part of a community where people care about one another and help in large and small ways.”
The contest attracted support from not only the court staffs but also local companies and people in the community.
Wichert Insurance, which provides insurance to Barberton, Stow and the Battered Women’s Shelter, donated 100 boxes of cereal to each court. The Cuyahoga Falls company’s charitable foundation had just raised $500 with Super Bowl squares. When they heard about the court’s contest, they figured this was a great use for these funds.
“It was like a perfect way for us to participate and get involved — and have fun with it,” said Janie Geis, co-owner of the company.
Geis and her sister went to Walmart to buy the cereal and realized the SUV they drove wasn’t big enough for all the boxes. They called an employee with a pickup truck who came to the rescue.
“You don’t realize how much space that takes!” she said of the 200 boxes of cereal.
Fish and Todd McKenney, the other Barberton judge, built a wall with their cereal boxes that started in McKenney’s office and continued into the hallway.
“At one point, we had 73 boxes of Frosted Flakes and 68 boxes of Cheerios,” Fish said. “It helped us to count.”
Fish pasted a picture of Hoover over Tony the Tiger on one of the Frosted Flakes boxes and renamed it “Stow Flakes,” a dig on how the Stow court closed while the Barberton court remained open during the recent polar vortex.
Fish sent Heckman daily pictures to show her the court’s progress. At one point, she texted him to ask if he could find a donor for milk. He responded, “You’re going to need a cow.”
Both courts received donations of gift cards and cash that the shelter could use to for milk to pair with the cereal or for other needs. The Barberton Speedway and Jones & Associates, an Akron excavating company, were among the larger donors for this effort.
Stow had a slight problem during the contest with a few people who came in to pay parking tickets and tried to leave with a box of cereal from the stash in the lobby. They were stopped by security, Hoover said.
Hungry for more
Heckman is hoping the success of the Cereal Bowl might prompt other companies or agencies to mimic it or start similar efforts.
"There are hundreds, if not thousands of community businesses that could copy this competition and have their own fun while helping to fill the needs of local shelters,” she said.
The contest caught the attention of the Ohio Supreme Court, which featured it in a story last week shared via email with media and court officials across the state.
The Barberton and Stow judges have already begun to think about how to follow up on the success of the Cereal Bowl next year. Fish thinks perhaps they should try a “Souper” Bowl, while Hoover is wondering if the Barberton and Stow courts should challenge the Akron court.
“We are always bantering about ideas,” Hoover said. “We’re so happy about this one!”
Stephanie Warsmith can be reached at 330-996-3705, firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter: @swarsmithabj.