Oil-field companies in the Bakken rallied to aid the less fortunate this month by collecting enough food and other supplies to stuff the pantries of organizations serving 15 communities.
Roughly 40,000 pounds of food and supplies were collected during the 10-day Can for Can Challenge, said organizer Rick Harger, public relations officer with SITE. SITE has area offices in Bowman, New Town and Watford City.
Seven thousand pounds of food were divided in Minot among the Minot YWCA, Minot Area Homeless Coalition and Domestic Violence Crisis Center.
The food came from more than 16,000 pounds collected by JMAC, a Williston company that not only competes in the oil-field construction market with SITE but proved to be a tough competitor in the challenge.
"We probably would have clearly won it if it wasn't for JMAC," said Harger, who doesn't mind coming in second in the challenge, given the good cause.
"I am ecstatic," he said. "Bring it on. That's what it's all about."
Companies generally collected items in-house, which is a credit to the industry, Harger said.
"They did a fabulous job," he said. "They put in a serious effort all of them did. I am impressed with them."
Harger, who initiated the food drive with the blessing of his employer, went door to door to enlist companies in the challenge, which ended Friday. About 38 companies participated at more than 60 of their locations.
Harger said it is important for the industry to give back because not everyone in the region is benefiting from the oil activity, and many people need help. That's what prompted the challenge.
"Nobody should go hungry," Harger said. "For an annual effort to guarantee, in the holiday season, that people have food and a good choice of food and they have things they need, and knowing that this industry will step up and meet that need, it was an obvious thing to do. And I knew the support would come."
Some companies targeted their donations to groups that they wanted to support in their communities. One company emphasized laundry soap and collected more than 300 pounds.
Harger was pleased that companies not only jumped on the bandwagon but had fun with the challenge taht ended Dec. 20. Donations typically stayed in the communities where it was collected, although situations such as the JMAC donation of 7,000 pounds of food to Minot organizations exemplifies the spirit of community helping community that also existed, he said.
"I am hoping next year we can bring it into even more areas," he said. Unable in the time available to reach all the companies that might have participated, he sees potential to grow the event significantly next year.