BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - As the holiday season approaches, Bike Baton Rouge "cranked" things up with a unique food drive and a big donation to the Baton Rouge Police Department.
"It's a bike ride, food drive, scavenger hunt combination," said Mika Torkkola, president of Bike Baton Rouge. "You show up and we give you a grocery list and a map with five stores and you have to go pedal to those five different locations purchase the items on the list and bring them back and then we donate the items to the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank."
This is the second year the nonprofit organization has hosted its Cranksgiving donation event. The first event generated a total of 125 pounds of food. This year, about 75 people attended.
"This year, the donations you gather will be even more important, as the Food Bank lost 575,000 pounds worth of food to the floods," states a press release issued by Bike Baton Rouge.
Although the event was free, participants still needed to have money to purchase items. The average cost was estimated at $20. Riders were also required to provide their own bike and a way to carry their groceries (backpack, travel rack, etc). Although not technically a race, there were prizes.
"We're going to be giving prizes to the person who is the fastest, and we're going to be giving prizes to the person who is the slowest," states Torkkola.
Before the ride began, Bike Baton Rouge presented BRPD with a special donation of bike lights.
"We will donate 500 LED lights to the Baton Rouge Police Department for our continued commitment to help Light up the Night in Baton Rouge," said Samantha Morgan, board member of Bike Baton Rouge. "We hope this program will continue to educate people about the importance of riding with lights at night, as well as get them in the hands of people who need them."
Membership fees and private donations have helped pay for a total of 300 lights, but the Cranksgiving donation was the largest yet, thanks to a generous donation from a Bike Baton Rouge member and his employer, Exxon-Mobil.
"At ExxonMobil, safety is always our top value. We're honored to support Bike Baton Rouge's efforts to provide additional bike lights to the Baton Rouge Police Department," explained ExxonMobil Public & Government Affairs Manager Stephanie Cargile. "This donation is the result of hours volunteered by our employees, matched with grants from the ExxonMobil Foundation."
After Cranksgiving, Bike Baton Rouge hosted a dinner and awards ceremony.
Prizes, provided by Bike Baton Rouge, as well as local bike stores and restaurants, were awarded across three categories of riders: Fast, Fun, and Family. While the fastest riders in each category received prizes, there were also prizes for those who spent the most, the least, and those who were the slowest riders. Bike Baton Rouge says that Cranksgiving is "only a race if you want it to be."
Donations for the food bank were accepted whether or not the donor participated in the ride.
Cranksgiving was held on Sunday, November 20 at BREC's City Park. Click here for more information.
Click here to see additional holiday events and donation drives.