The recent Oro Valley Bag-a-Thon Community Food Drive collected over 26,000 pounds of food for the local community. A record 3,992 pounds were donated by the Town of Oro Valley, a partner in the event.
The Bag-a-Thon was started 13 years ago by local Edward Jones offices where employees and clients collected food for the local food bank. The event has grown exponentially since its start.
“It grew out of control in the beginning,” said Edward Jones Financial Advisor Peggy Klein.
In 2012, Edward Jones started a collaboration with the Town of Oro Valley, an effort which has grown each year. Last year, town employees collected 1,276 pounds of food, which more than doubled this year due to in-office competitions.
According to Misti Nowak, communications administrator for the Town of Oro Valley, the friendly competitions paid off. Nearly 4,000 pounds were collected in under four weeks.
The town, and many other local groups, joined the effort to collect food desperately needed for the holiday season. Local schools and scouting groups have donated both food and time volunteering for the event.
“The boy scouts and the local schools always bend over backwards for us,” Klein said. “Everybody has started participating. Trader Joe’s started giving thousands of bags of food for us to give out to the community and Signarama has always done our signs for free.”
All of the food collected at the event will be donated to Interfaith Community Services Food Bank.
ICS is an organization which works to improve the lives of seniors, people with disabilities and people living in financial insecurity. The food bank is one of many ways that they strive to help serve the community.
“This is the biggest and most crucial food drive,” said Interfaith Community Services Philanthropy and Public Relations Director Deborah Carr, “because it supplies all of the food we use to fill our holiday food bags. We hope to give out over 3,000 this year.”
The holiday food bags will go out to the community between Nov. 13 and 22. The holiday season is the busiest time of year for food banks everywhere, and ICS is no exception. The Bag-a-Thon not only provides food for the special holiday food bags, but also keeps shelves stocked at the food bank, Carr said.
“We want to make sure that families can have a nice holiday meal,” she said.
At the event last Saturday, 25 core volunteers collected and sorted food ready for ICS with the help of local boy scouts. The event was set up to be easy for people to participate, Klein said.
“People can literally dive up, drop off food and keep driving,” she said.
Between all of the collection efforts, ICS will receive over 26,000 pounds of food.
“We are so very grateful for all of their help,” Carr said.
Tirion Morris is a University of Arizona journalism student and Tucson Local Media intern.