Hey there! It’s been a while since we’ve spoken. How have you been? Good, I’d hope. Anyway, have a seat; we’d like to have a little chat with you.
When we embarked on our “maiden voyage” back in 2010, we weren’t quite sure what to expect. Our ambitions were modest; we wanted to get a feel for our great nation, meet new people, and most importantly, we wanted to help those in need along the way. The goal seemed ambitious at the time; an eleven-day trip with 2000 pounds of food raised for food banks across Canada. What happened next shattered expectations. We tripled our expectation, and received an overwhelming message from our new friends: come back, and we’ll help you make it bigger.
Did they ever. We went coast to coast the next summer and turned 6000 pounds raised into 43,000. The year after that, we tripled our luck, and the year after that, we raised over 300,000 pounds of food. By 2014, we crossed the million pound mark all-time. An expectation beyond our wildest dreams, to say the least. The momentum continued into next year, as we set new benchmarks in nearly all of our regular cities.
So with that said, the next statement might come as a bit of a surprise; we’re moving on to new adventures.
Over the past couple of years, the whole team has been thinking about how we can make this bigger; not by numbers, but by impact. Ultimately, we came to a realization. While it means the world to us to be able to help alleviate the struggles in the lives of impoverished Canadians, we’re providing a band-aid to a more systematic issue. Now, we’ve got our sights set on shaking up the system.
There’s been a growing emphasis on using sports as a vehicle for social development. We’ve made some steps in that direction recently; supporting initiatives that use hockey to further youth education, curb substance abuse and create community leaders. The efforts have taken many of us across North America and throughout the world.
Professional hockey has undergone many changes in both its rules and its philosophy over the past few years. For example, research and development is leading the community to believe that teams that are already ahead are more likely to win if they continue pressing to score rather than sitting back and trying to prevent from being scored on. When you defend, you let the problems come to you.
In a sense, that’s the shift that we’re taking as a group. Thanks to your support, we’ve found great success in providing a line of defence for those who have needed our extra helping hand. Hopefully, the importance of helping out valuable support systems like our local food banks isn’t forgotten.
But it’s time for us to take advantage of our lead and go on the offensive. There are opportunities for us to tackle the issues in communities in Canada and across the world that lead to the situations of need that we’ve been trying to alleviate. We have opportunities to put generations of “underdogs” into positions where they can succeed.
We feel that it’s our responsibility to take those opportunities. Be it in the Himalayas, Patagonia, the Arctic Circle, or the inner cities, there are so many places where we can bring the positive change to a way of life through the game that we love.
Where does that leave you? Well, we’re hoping that you’ll join us for the next step. There’s no doubt that we’re going to miss the journies that we’ve taken, and the stories that have come with them. We’re going to miss having the same friends come out to support us for the same stretches every summer. But know that we’re not finished. We’re just getting started.
From the whole Five Hole For Food team, thank you for all the support to date, and we hope you’ll join us on this new journey!
You know, this cross-country trip is a lot faster on a plane that doesn’t make any stops. This post will probably go up some time tomorrow morning, but for now, I’m somewhere over the British Colombia / Alberta border. We’re going nearly 1000 kilometres an hour, racing towards Toronto, our mid-way point on the tour and the place that I call home. In four hours, I’ll be in my bed for the first time in three weeks.
It’s going to be nice being back home; but all the same, I’m going to miss the trip. Seeing this amazing country front to back is something that few are ever able to accomplish, and I’ve had the privilege of doing so in back to back years as a member of the FHFF road crew. I enjoyed it even more this time, now that I had a bit of experience to work with. I can only imagine how adjusted Richard is to the whole thing after six consecutive years.
As soon as the last goal was scored on Granville Street on Saturday, I began trying to think of an underlying theme for this trip. Something that remained a constant from back to back, for every kilometre of every province.
On Sunday afternoon, I stopped by the grocery store to get a bottle of pop, some snacks, and some change to do laundry. You can probably guess my drink of choice; it was from the company that has been putting random names on the side. I didn’t look at it until later that night, when I got inside.
“Team”. Yep. My theme was gift-wrapped to me by a bottle of Coke Zero.
If you played in one of our games across the country this year, you’ll notice that we did a new thing this time around, and allowed for pre-registrations of players and teams. It’s actually similar to what that our City Champion in Edmonton did last year and did extremely well with, and we’d be lying if we said that it wasn’t huge in helping nearly every city on the tour have their best years ever. After all, a group of five is likely to bring more to donate than a single person. It also gives us a better idea of what to expect going into the day.
But it’s not just that. Even in a non-competitive setting, hockey is still a team sport. Though some of us (okay, just myself) get tunnel vision from time to time and try to do everything ourselves, you need to work together with those around you to keep the game fun. All across the country, that teamwork was shown.
Teams looked the part, from the group decked out in Team Canada jerseys in St. John’s to the Vancouver Facial Hair Club. Teams played the part – Saint John had an SJMBHL matchup happen with each team pulling in out-of-league ringers to bolster their single-day roster. There are tons of great stories like this in every city, but we’d be here all night if we tried to list all of them.
Some of those teams were even creations of circumstance. In St John’s, we had a group of people who just happened to be strolling by for Canada Day take one look, decided it was an awesome cause, and donated, registered, and played for hours. On the spot. I personally had a moment in Toronto, where midway through the day, I got to assemble two of my cousins on my wing, one of my best friends on defence, and my brother in net. Throughout the country, teams were more than willing to integrate people they’ve never met into the fold, often creating new friendships.
Teamwork isn’t just something that happens on the court, either. Events like this aren’t possible without the assistance of our sponsors. Boston Pizza for keeping us fed across the country while surprising our guests with meals to refuel with in some cities, for instance. London Drugs for raising money and food in so many of their locations, and playing in just about every game from Winnipeg to Vancouver. 7 Eleven for providing our players with water, snacks, and making sure that everything went fantastic. Nature’s Path for singlehandedly providing enough food in Toronto to keep the country’s biggest city fed come breakfast time for a few extra days of the year. Vounteers from Telus came out and ran several of our registration booths. The list of support and the ways of contributions keep going on and on.
But you didn’t have to be a big company with deep pockets to make a difference here. Every little donation counted. For some, a can of food just seems like something you keep in the back of the cupboard so you don’t have to go to a grocery store when you need it. For others, it might be the difference in keeping them going for another day. A loonie might mean an insignificant snack to us, but if you pass it on to a food bank, they might be able to turn that into a meal for those who really need it.
Sometimes it’s easy to forget that we, as a society are one big team. If everybody was truly against each other, we would have chaos, and nobody would ever be happy. Even when it doesn’t seem like it, we all have the inherent internal ability to do good for those around us, which comes back around in ways that many take for granted. If we all offered a helping hand to each other in the ways that we’re capable of, we would be happier, healthier, and stronger as a collective unit.
In theory, four of us piled into a car for a few weeks and played hockey with some people. But we’re just a drop in the bucket, or a cog in the machine compared to you all. Whether you came out to play with your friends, made a donation while buying a Slurpee, used a hashtag to boost a cereal total, or told a Facebook acquaintance to check out what was going on, you made a difference. We didn’t cross the country as a team of four; we crossed the country as a line of a team of thirty five million, on a mission to make sure that all of us have what we need to make it through the rough patches.
The game isn’t over yet, but with every tour that passes, we start getting closer and closer to victory. Let’s keep chipping away at it, but in the meantime, we couldn’t be more honored to have such an amazing team.
It’s been an amazing couple of weeks. For the last eighteen days, we’ve spent our time crossing every province in the country for the sixth year in a row. The stops along the way were not without purpose; we played hockey, and in the process, raised a staggering amount of food and money for food banks across the country. But now, the travelling is over. We’ve safely arrived in Vancouver, and there’s nowhere left to go.
There was, however, still a game to be played. A lot of them, actually. Because today, on the last day of the tour, we had not one, not two, but six rinks going in the middle of Granville Street. From Nelson Street down to Davie Street, we had all sorts of different types of high stakes ball hockey battles to be had.
We had our teams. There was a seemingly endless list of groups who signed up to play. We had our clever names, like That Stick Cray, who played their hearts out. Or how about the Vancouver Facial Hair Club, who had beards that were fierce enough to scare off just about anybody other than an eager hockey player. These teams were just the tip of the iceberg on an event that included so many eager and excited groups of people; even I ended up creating a team of local bloggers towards the end of the the day to get in on the action.
We had our VIPs. Listing off a bunch of “big names” is one thing, but we made this game about those who helped make a difference. Groups like London Drugs and Nature’s Path, who have been supporting us for years and had presences throughout the tour were the building blocks of the matchup. From there, some of the crew integrated themselves, along with members of the Food Bank and anybody else from the area who helped make things possible. The initial game was a ton of fun, and everybody involed found a way to integrate themselves throughout the day.
We had our miners. Teams from all over BC participated in this year’s mini-tourney, and raised approximately 25,000 pounds of food. Sandstorm Gold eventually were deemed the winenrs of the event with their fanastic skills and clutch goals, but at the end of the day, the donations were what really mattered.
We had our drop ins. Whether you were a regular who came by to play in a drop-in rink, or a a newbie who offered themselvs up to a team, you made a difference. When teams got tired, the drop-ins were the ones who stepped in. Whether you volunteered to help a team, or warmed up a goalie, or simply shot around for a few hours, your presence meant the world to us.
But more important than the games, was what was given to the Greater Vancouver Food Bank. Some donations really swiug for the fence; London Drugs, for example, contributed an amazing 80,000 pounds as a supplement to their in-store fund and food raising drives. But even the little donations mattered; a handful of change here, a can of food there, it all makes a difference for those in need. All good things must come to an end, however, and at 6PM, the courts switched to next goal wins. A few people took those concluding shots and felt like heroes, but the reality is, by supporting the cause, they were long before those last shots went in the back of the nets.
From there, we packed things up for the day. Unlike previous games, we didn’t have a new city to look forward to; for now, this is it. Over the next few days, the road crew will head their separate ways, with the only remaining travel being devoted to getting home. But we won’t forget what we’ve seen. Now, you can take that sentence a lot of ways; most would assume that we’ve seen a gorgeous array of land spanning several thousand kilometres and ten provinces.
But we saw something else; the chain-linked sense of community that stretches from coast to coast. Seeing a mountain is one thing; seeing an young kid drop off a box of cereal while bopping in excitement to play is another. The Prairies are cool; a team piling out of a van while a cube van full of food and water is cooler.Telling stories about this trip has been fun; but hearing people’s stories along the way is much more meaningful. Helping create good stories for others, just as much.
Even though we’re out of cities to drive through for this year, there’s still a lot of work to do. We wish we could say that these trips fix absolutely everything; they help, but there’s still a lot of people in need. We’ll do our best to answer the call, and hopefully, you’ll be right there with us.
Check out our photos from our Vancouver event!
I’m running out of alliterations for these recap titles. Thankfully, this fantastic country isn’t running out of support for the cause – especially as the road crew rolls into it’s home province of British Colombia. It’s been a crazy, adventure filled month; one that has turned a lot of effort into very positive results, but as things wind down this weekend, the events are much “closer to home” for the bulk of our volunteers.
Though, in the case of Victoria, it still requires a ferry ride to-and from Vancouver. After all, despite being the second last stop on the tour, it’s actually the furthest city to the west. This was of no concern to us, though – we pulled the van up on the super-boat and before we knew it, we were on the Island, ready to play some hockey.
Our venue was a bit different this year, moving from Saanich Plaza to the Mayfair Shopping Centre. This put us further in the heart of the city, and gave us a lot more foot traffic than in previous years. The results were very positive!
The day kicked off with teams converging on three rinks, a bigger playing area than last year. A lot of fast paced back and forth action went down, with some awesome goals, saves, and plays made in the process. Eventually, as teams started to tire out, one rink turned into a rink for kids to practice in, while the adults warmed up new goalies in an area off to the side. Eventually, the Victora and Saanich Police & Fire Departments showed up. Nothing was wrong – they were here to play! They had intense games, which were probably the only times they were okay with “shots fired”, “robbery”, and people being “on fire”. Ace, the mascot of the Saanich Police, doubled as a coach in the process, and was one of many larger-than-life friends who made appearances.
This all set up for the VIP game. Though we had mic complications, Kathleen Burton lead the crowd of people through singing the national anthem, which gave things an authentic hockey game feel before the opening faceoff. From there, Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps took the “podium”, and gave a heartfelt speech about how she believed that we weren’t just here to do a good deed, but to fullfill a basic human right. Lisa didn’t just lead the ceremonial drop, but she also played in the game.
Overall, we had a lot of fun, as did all of our fantastic participants. We ended up raising hundreds of pounds of food and thousands of dollars – $1000 of which came from the Saanich Firefighters. Ultimatley, it all went to The Mustard Seed, who are the largest food bank on Vancouver Island. Their goal is to significantly lower the rate of “food insecurity” in Victoria – at the moment, they estimate that 6% of the city is struggling with their meals. Beyond that, the Seed helps in other ways, doing what they can to provide anything from haircuts to clothes to counselling.
A successful outing today leaves us with just one stop to go – Vancouver. As always, we expect Five Hole For Food’s home town to have the biggest showing on the tour, and we’d really love it if you could be a part of it! Join us on Granville Street from 12PM to 6PM in support of the Greater Vancouver Food Bank.
We’re almost back in British Columbia! As we speak, the tour van is roaring through Western Alberta en route to Vancouver, in anticipation for the final two stops of the tour this weekend. The views are beautiful and we can’t wait to be in our home province to play hockey with some long-time and new friends.
With this considered, we’ve decided to up the stakes for our last stop in Vancouver. While you give back to the community with your donations to the Greater Vancouver Food Bank, we want to give back to you! As such, we have a cool prize up for grabs: a Vancouver Canucks hockey stick signed by Alexandre Burrows, graciously provided by the team!
Now, you way be wondering – how do you win such a thing? Well, you have to be at our Vancouver event. Sticks aren’t easy to deliver, and we’d obviously prefer to give the stick to someone who has given to the cause. We’re going to be on Granville Street from 12 to 6 PM on Saturday; you can find more exact details on our Facebook Event Page. If you want to guarantee a timeslot to play in (especially if you have friends coming with you), you can register as an individual or a team ahead of time. If you don’t, you’re still more than welcome to show up with a cash or food donation and your game face!
You’re also going to want to follow us Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook; this will involve some social media activity, so the more venues you have to work with, the better! We’ll also have other giveaways and freebies scattered throughout the day, so it’s a good idea to keep tabs on those profiles.
Best of luck, and we can’t wait to see you this weekend in Victoria and Vancouver!