May 5-9 marks Hunger Awareness Week in Canada and as food banks across the country host events to raise awareness of the work they do and tell the stories of the thousands of Canadians who rely on their services, one Interior resident is doing his part to give back to this important community issue.
Ryan Mahaffy, a personal banker at Valley First co-founded the Feed the Valley 5km Run four years ago in support of the then-recently launched Feed the Valley campaign, a community investment program created by Valley First. The program aims to raise food, funds and awareness for food banks throughout the Okanagan, Similkameen and Thompson regions.
“When Feed the Valley launched, there was a call out for all employees to come up with some new ideas to help raise awareness and donations for the program,” said Mahaffy. “As an avid runner, I enjoy the many road races and triathlons in this region and I thought it would be a great opportunity to tie my passion for running with this fantastic cause.”
With that, the Feed the Valley 5 km Run was born. Mahaffy partnered with co-worker, Debra Dunham and wife, Chelsey Mahaffy, both employees at Valley First and experienced in race management to organize the event.
“The timing worked out perfectly as we were able to pull together the run for the end of September, which also meant we were only a couple of weeks out from Thanksgiving, a time when the issue of hunger is at the fore,” says Mahaffy. “I’m pleased to say that the community has really embraced the event and over the last four years, the Feed the Valley 5km Run has raised more than $8,300 for Feed the Valley and our local food banks.”
Recently, Feed the Valley celebrated its fourth anniversary. Since the program launched in March 2010, food banks across B.C’s Southern Interior have received more than $615,000 and in excess of 25 tons of food thanks to the efforts of Valley First employees, members and community partners.
“We have many small communities across the Interior,” says Mahaffy. “It’s really important to get involved and give back to help our neighbours in need. The event is all volunteer-driven so 100 per cent of the funds raised from the run each year go directly to support our local food bank. We’re really proud of what we’ve accomplished so far in four short years, but of course we’d love to see the event grow even more and have more people come out to participate. Together, we can make a big difference in helping local families when they need it most.”
Community members can support the Feed the Valley program by donating non-perishable food items or making cash donations at their nearest Valley First branch. All donations of more than $20 are tax-deductible. For more information about the 2014 Feed the Valley 5km Run, or to make a donation to Feed the Valley, visit www.feedthevalley.ca or through the Food Banks B.C. online donations portal at: http://www.foodbanksbc.com/get-involved/feed-the-valley/.
Valley First also teamed up with Penticton’s Burger 55 to show their support during Hunger Awareness Week. Every dollar from a special Burger 55 creation purchased during the week went directly to Feed the Valley and supports the local food bank.