(November 1) -- The Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Raptors announced Tuesday a partnership with Purolator, Canada's largest courier company, to promote Food Drive Awareness Month at all November hockey and basketball home games at Air Canada Centre. Donations of non-perishable food items will be accepted at all Air Canada Centre gates, which will then be delivered to Toronto's Daily Bread Food Bank by Purolator.
Special food drive nights take place Saturday, November 19 when the Leafs host the Atlanta Thrashers and Sunday, November 20 when the Raptors host the Miami Heat. Players' wives and partners will greet fans entering Air Canada Centre as they support the initiative during these special nights.
As an incentive, the first 100 fans to bring three or more non-perishable food items to Gate 1 on November 19 starting at 6 p.m. can have their photo taken with a Leafs Alumni member, while the first 25 fans to bring three or more non-perishable food items to Gate 1 on November 20 at noon can have their photo taken with a Raptors player.
"It's an alarming fact that more than 175,000 people rely on food relief programs in the Greater Toronto Area," said John Lashway, senior vice-president of communications and community development at Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment. "The Leafs and Raptors have the best and most generous fans in their respective leagues and with their support and the work of the Toronto Daily Bread Food Bank eliminating hunger in our city becomes a more attainable goal."
Both the Leafs and Raptors have been long-time supporters of the Daily Bread Food Bank. In 2004 the Raptors, Leafs and Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment employees collected more than 3,000 pounds of food to support food drive efforts. Over the past several years, thousands of pounds of food and financial donations have been raised through in-arena food drives throughout the hockey and basketball seasons and the playoffs.
"Purolator is extremely pleased to be partnering with the Leafs and Raptors for Food Drive Awareness Month. Hunger is a fundamental and pressing concern that affects all the communities we serve, work and live in," said Bob Johnson, president and CEO of Purolator Courier Ltd. "Over the past three years, Purolator has raised over 670,000 pounds of food for those in need across Canada. We are looking forward to building on our fundraising success and making a real difference in the lives of thousands of Torontonians."
The Purolator Food Drive Awareness Month is a joint initiative of the Leafs and Raptors community relations departments. Leafs and Raptors community relations provide community outreach programs that make a difference for youth and various charitable organizations.