The WPCA and EnCana once again partnered this year for the Race Against Hunger, a campaign to help food banks in communities along the WPCA’s Dodge Pro Tour route, including Dawson Creek, which hosts the chuckwagon races during the annual Fall Fair.
In Dawson Creek, the campaign raised 3,800 pounds of food and nearly $25,000 in monetary donations. The monetary total includes a contribution from EnCana, which agreed to match cash donations dollar-for-dollar, and $2 per pound of food, up to a total of $10,000.
John MacDonald, family services director for the Salvation Army in Dawson Creek, said the food donations included two whole cows and a buffalo from local ranchers.
“I though that was a little abnormal, but we are in Dawson Creek, and, yes, we can use the meat!” he said, adding the meat was prepared at a significantly reduced price by Lawrence Meats.
The totals also included the fundraising efforts of chuckwagon driver Mark Sutherland, who out of 36 drivers, raised the most amount of donations and was named the “2011 Food Driver of the Year. The drivers participated in each community along the tour by helping to bag groceries, sell food hampers and promote the Race Against Hunger campaign at a local grocery store. Sutherland said he benefited from having close family and other ties in Dawson Creek, having grown up in nearby Grande Prairie.
“I went around to people that in some cases were planning on donating to the food bank already, and they just took advantage of the EnCana matching grant,” he said.
He said chuckwagon drivers are a competitive bunch anyways, and the food bank campaign was no exception.
“The chuckwagon association would find a partnering grocery store in different areas, and in some of the areas it got to where we were walking up and down the aisles and asking people to come to our check-out to donate money or buy the bags that would go to the food banks!” he said. “The wagon drivers got behind it and we were pretty competitive – I can tell you, every time you left after bagging groceries, you know what your totals were and you knew what the guy beside you’s totals were.”
He raised over $7,000 total in his campaign, and because of his connections and the fact most of the fundraising happened in Dawson Creek, he decided to donate that to the food bank here. For his efforts, he received a shiny new belt buckle and a $1,000 cheque from EnCana.
MacDonald said the donations are really important heading into the winter as heating and other costs rise for families, especially this year, as he said food bank use across the country is up over 20 per cent.
“We will be able to help them [families[ a little bit more through this winter season, which will be a lot better for them,” he said.
Of course, the Salvation Army will still be looking for the support of the community during its annual Christmas kettle campaign, which is set to kick-off later this month in locations across the city.
In total, the Race Against Hunger campaign raised a total of more than $57,000 and almost 14,000 pounds of food in the five communities along the tour, which also included Grande Prairie, Drumheller, Ponoka, and Strathmore in Alberta. Brian Lieverse, community relations advisor for EnCana, said they are very pleased with the results this year, especially in Dawson Creek, and are looking forward to partnering with the WPCA and local community organizations for future campaigns.
Brian Liverse (left) and Mark Sutherland are pleased to present cheques totalling over $17,000 on behalf of EnCana and the World Professional Chuckwagon Association on Wednesday afternoon to Francie Lee and John MacDonald with the Salvation Army in Dawson Creek. The money was raised during the Race Against Hunger campaign and will go towards stocking the local food bank.