I think boys are naturally competitive, but one mom in Ahwatukee Foothills decided to take that competitiveness and put it toward a good cause.

That's how two club baseball teams, U12 and U10 of Pirate Club Baseball, got started with their canned food drive for the Kyrene Resource Center.

It started as a competition between the two teams to see who could gather the most cans. Andrea McKeon, who has a son on each team, set a goal of 200 cans from both teams.

She told the boys the losing team would have to bring donuts to practice and deliver them to the winning team.

After two weeks, McKeon was pleasantly surprised with more than 300 cans and a large group of boys all excited to help.

"It's better to give than to receive," said Cameron Pooich, a member of the U12 team. "We live in our homes and you think everyone else lives in a home, but they really don't."

Each of the boys I spoke to during a Monday night practice were excited about the competition and how many cans they had personally donated.

"It's for children that can't afford as much food as others can," said Matthew McKeon, 10, Andrea's son who is competing against his older brother on the other team. "He goes on one side of the neighborhood, and I go on the other, and we collect as many cans as we can. I got five cans from one house today, but some of them could only give one because they didn't have as many cans."

For McKeon and for the coaches it's a good feeling.

"As they're getting older we're trying to get them to understand it's not just baseball," McKeon said. "It's about representing Ahwatukee and doing the right thing for kids that might not be able to play club sports. They need to understand there are kids struggling just to eat, let alone play sports."

McKeon realizes most of the boys are probably just begging their parents for the cans, but at least they know how it feels to give.

"It's just nice to know that every can we're giving is one less hungry person out there in the world," said 12-year-old Lucas Grennan.

And, in the end, winning the competition wouldn't hurt either.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or ahurtado@ahwatukee.com

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