The Fox drama Lucifer

Reel Thanksgiving Challenge makes a real difference for food bank

Online campaign invites donors to vote for their favourite TV shows

by Andrew Fleming

Fans of several different television series currently shooting in Surrey and the surrounding area have a new way to show their support while also doing a good deed at the same time.

The Reel Thanksgiving Challenge is a two-week donation drive launched Sept. 26 by IATSE Local 891, a labour union representing local film workers, for the Greater Vancouver Food Bank. Donors can vote for their favourite made-in-Surrey shows when they drop of non-perishable food items or donate money online.

IATSE president Mitch Davies said local production crews have already raised $58,000 for the annual fundraiser now in its fourth year. While it’s not an Emmy, he added that bragging rights for feeding the most people in need is a major motivating factor for film workers in the friendly competition.

“Everybody immediately jumped on board and saw the potential when I first floated the idea back in 2013,” said Davies. “Our film crews are always working out on the streets and we see a lot of people in need. It’s tough to see day after day and it’s really nice that so many of our members are not only in a position financially to give a lot back but they are motivated to do so.”

He added that most of the money raised comes from film crews themselves but he welcomes the wildcard factor that comes from the public being able to vote with their wallets, although shows that haven’t aired yet will be at an obvious disadvantage.

The local choices from the total of 34 productions include Arrow, Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce, The Flash, Supergirl, and The Magicians, as well as the upcoming new shows Altered Carbon, Timeless and the gritty Archie Andrews reboot Riverdale.

“We are excited that the film and television industry is again choosing to support the Greater Vancouver Food Bank through the Reel Thanksgiving Challenge,” said food bank CEO Aart Schuurman Hess. “The enthusiasm and generosity of the various production participants is simply amazing, and will go a long way in making a difference to the lives of the 26,500 people we help every week.”

Last year’s fundraiser raised $87,100 in much-needed food and funds, with the Fox series Lucifer pulling in over $17,000 in funds and food donations. Food banks are relied on each month by 100,000 people across BC and over a third of people using them are children.

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