Food drive

Groups from throughout the Northwest are participating in this year’s Bag-A-Thon. Among those helping out are, from left, Matthew Parks from Immaculate Heart School, Abigail Picus from American Heritage Girls, Adrienne Kunkel from Canyon Del Oro High School, Luke Katsel from Cub Scout Pack 209, Julian DeAlva from Cub Scout Pack 299, Alexis DeAlva from Girls Scout Troop 1287, and Greer Willman from Ironwood Ridge High School.

courtesy photo

One of my favorite things about working at The Explorer is shining a spotlight on people who are making a difference in our community.

Few shine brighter than Ken Blanchard. Five years ago, Ken and his wife were asked to donate to the local food bank. It got him thinking about things he could do to make a positive impact, and the Bag-A-Thon was born.

Ken, a principal at the Oro Valley office of Edward Jones, reached out to his friends and associates.

His goal was to collect 1,000 pounds of non-perishable food, such as cereal, pasta, pasta sauce, soups and canned meats for Interfaith Community Services.

The reception was remarkable, and he collected twice his goal that first year.

Now in its fifth year, the Bag-A-Thon has grown annually. This year’s goal is to raise 30,000 pounds of food for ICS, which distributes more than 1,000 emergency food boxes every month and more than 12,000 supplemental food items to local hungry families.

Thanks to the generosity of area residents, Ken feels confident this year’s goal will be met.

“People in general are very giving. I don’t ask a few people to do a lot for others. I ask a lot of people to do a little,” Ken said, noting one of his clients recently surprised him with a donation of 300 pounds of food.

The Bag-A-Thon has a ripple effect, bringing out the best in the people it touches. The Town of Oro Valley has partnered with the project, and its municipal offices and Coyote Run transit buses are now drop-off sites for donations along with Edward Jones’ 16 offices citywide, including Oro Valley and Marana.

Caffé Torino in Oro Valley donates food every year for the breakfast served to celebrate donors and donations at the end of the one-month collection period. 

This year’s breakfast will take place Nov. 5 from 8 a.m. to noon at select Edward Jones’ offices across the Old Pueblo, with KGUN 9’s Guy Atchley visiting the Oro Valley office at Lambert Lane and La Canada Drive.

For Ken, the legacy extends far beyond the food donations.

“I have two young daughters, ages 7 and 10, and it’s so important for kids to learn to make a positive difference,” he said. “We all need to leave the world a better place.”

For more information about donating to the fifth annual Bag-A-Thon, call 219-5101 or the Town of Oro Valley at 229-4711.

— Wendy Miller

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