The Farm Credit Canada “Drive Away Hunger” campaign will be in Moose Jaw next week.
The food drive initiative has helped raise upwards of eight million pounds of food since its inception nine years ago, when an FCC employee decided to hop on his tractor and drive around Ontario collecting food for local food banks.
In the spirit of that initiative, FCC now hosts annual food drives that see tractors and trailers trolling around towns collecting food donations all across Canada. Though FCC organizes food drives every year around Saskatchewan, this is the first time that the “Tractor Drive” will be coming to Moose Jaw.
The drive will kick off its Saskatchewan tour with a tour launch and barbecue at Prince Arthur Community School. The program begins at 11:15 a.m.
“It really raises the awareness of what’s going on and what we can do to help out a cause like the food banks,” says Brent Bender, FCC Director for the Regina District.
Bender says that he can’t believe the level of support and enthusiasm received from the community of Moose Jaw so far. “We thought at first if we could get maybe one tractor and trailer going across the city and maybe 15 stops, that that would be great,” but as the FCC began working with partners in Moose Jaw the support did not stop coming. “Now we’re going to have three tractors and three trailers going across the city of Moose Jaw next Tuesday,” stopping at upwards of 40 stops and counting where the tractors will be picking up donations.
Among the stops that the tractor drive will make next Tuesday are all of the schools in town as well as many businesses — including the Moose Jaw Times-Herald at 3:05 p.m. (anyone wishing to make a food donation but not having time to attend any of the drop offs can drop off their donation at the Times-Herald prior to the pick-up time).
The final stop will be Mosaic Place where all the tractors and trailers will be parked on display, accompanied by FCC volunteers collecting food donations, at 5:30 p.m. before the Moose Jaw Warriors faceoff against the Everett Silvertips.
“I can’t say enough about all the people, the Moose Jaw community, how they’ve come on board to help out with our campaign,” says Bender. “It wouldn’t be much of a drive if we didn’t have people raising up their arms and saying ‘how can we help’ and that’s happening in a big way in the community of Moose Jaw. I just can’t say enough how much we appreciate it.”
Bender is particularly excited about the new partnership that the FCC has found in the Moose Jaw Warriors.
“It’s exciting because this could be the start of a bunch of other WHL and OHL teams coming on bored. Maybe the Moose Jaw Warriors have started something here that’s going to spread across Canada,” something he says could give a huge boost to the amount of donations the project can raise and to the success of the fundraiser.
Corey Nyhagen, director of business operations for the Warriors, is just as enthusiastic about the new partnership.
“When we heard of the initiative the FCC was doing with the Drive Away Hunger program, we wanted to get involved. The fact that we were having a game right around that time, we thought it would be a great fit for us to be part of it and help drive awareness for it.”
The Warriors will be helping to raise awareness for the food drive after the game on Sunday against the Tri City Americans.
Following the game, volunteers will be handing out donation bags that fans can fill with non-perishables and then return the filled bags before the Warriors game Tuesday.
“We are very fortunate and blessed to have a medium and stage to be able to utilize our celebrity and our players and the sheer volume of support and fans to lend to the initiative and support the cause,” says Nyhagen. He hopes the team’s involvement will bring “more exposure to the program, more exposure to the cause and also more recognition to all the partners who are coming together to make the Drive Away Hunger initiative so successful.”
Once the game has started Tuesday evening, volunteers will begin unpacking and weighing all of the donations in a staging area provided by the Warriors and Mosaic Place. Once a final tally is made of all the donations collected throughout Moose Jaw that day, a special announcement will be made during an intermission. “With all the food staying here, I think it’s a way for all of us, especially at this time of year, to help out,” says Nyhagen.