What began as a whimsical way to tie basketball’s March Madness excitement in with a canned food drive for Hopelink exceeded all expectations.
The first annual “March Can Madness” tournament, organized by Ben Wobker of Redmond Physical Therapy, resulted in the collection of 7,791 pounds of food over four weeks of competition.
Teams representing 15 Redmond businesses asked employees and supporters to donate non-perishable food for Hopelink’s food bank at the Family Resource Center in Redmond. At the end of each week, they brought their food to Hopelink to be weighed and tallied, with leaders advancing in the “brackets,” just as in the March Madness tournament.
At the end of March Can Madness, Hancock’s Bakery reigned victorious, donating 3,760 pounds of food, with the help of their customers and their faith community, Creekside Covenant Church, which holds worship services at Redmond Junior High School.
In second place, McDonald’s Book Exchange brought in 806 pounds of food.
Other “stats,” provided by Hopelink public relations specialist Denise Stephens, included the following:
• Largest single week total in the first week: Evergreen Primary Care Clinic at Redmond, 705 pounds.
• Smallest businesses participating: Charter Bank, Dr. Ghislaine Robert Sports Medicine, Eastside Basketball Club and Foot Solutions, each with just three employees.
• Largest businesses participating: Evergreen Primary Care Clinic at Redmond (58 employees) and VCA Redwood Animal Hospital (24 employees).
Other participating businesses included Redmond Physical Therapy, Bikram Yoga Redmond, Falco Sult, Foot Zone, Palmer’s East, Redmond Family Dentistry and Roos Orthodontics.
At a wrap-up celebration, yesterday at the Family Resource Center, Stephens gave certificates to all participants and a trophy to the champions Hancock’s Bakery, while stressing the importance of this massive effort to “shore up the food supplies at the Hopelink Food Bank.”
Between Thanksgiving and the New Year, people are incredibly generous in bringing donations to the food bank, but after the winter holidays are over, “people go back to business as usual,” even though the need for food is just as great or greater than before, Stephens noted.
She also praised Wobker for being the food drive’s “most valuable player.”
Wobker did not attend the awards ceremony because he was busy with clients at Redmond Physical Therapy. But Stephens told attendees that Wobker had personally visited dozens of businesses and asked them to consider joining the March Can Madness fun.
That kind of peer outreach, “from one business owner to another,” made all the difference at a time when many are feeling overwhelmed by requests for charitable donations, she said.
Wobker, a Redmond native and staunch community supporter, has long been a good friend of Hopelink because he often waives last-minute appointment cancellation fees for clients who bring in food for Hopelink.
To show appreciation, Stephens said she’d present Wobker with a special “goodie bag” of Hopelink souvenirs such as a hat, T-shirt and water bottle.
To learn more about Hopelink, including tours of its facilities in Redmond and other Eastside communities, visit www.hope-link.org or call (425) 869-6000.