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Mine worker's selfless act endures 32 years later

Edgar Burton Christmas Food Drive annually collects food for Sudbury's less fortunate

Just over three decades since it began, an annual Christmas food drive spearheaded by a Sudbury mine worker is again on track to collect more than 100 tons of food for the Sudbury Food Bank.

The Edgar Burton Christmas Food Drive was started 32 years ago by Edgar Burton, a Vale Divisional Shops employee who spent 36 years working for the company.

Inspired by his daughters’ desire to help out the community’s less fortunate residents, Burton galvanized his workplace – and then the community – to assist the food bank in ensuring no Sudbury resident goes hungry during the holidays.

Before his death in 2010, Burton launched the Kids Helping Kids campaign, which engages school children in the food drive and teaches them about the importance of giving back to their community.

To date, the annual initiative has collected more than 1,000 tons of food and has become one of the largest food drives in Canada.

“It’s rare that a single individual can start a tradition like this in the workplace and in a community,” said Mike McCann, head of mining and milling for Vale’s North Atlantic Operations, in a news release.

“We’re proud to continue the tradition that Edgar started at our operations so many years ago.” 

Today, Vale donates the time of one full-time and one part-time United Steel Worker (USW) Local 6500 employee for approximately two months to organize food drive.

Nick Larochelle, president of USW Local 6500, said the union is proud to uphold Burton’s vision of collecting just “one more can” than the previous year.

“Every year this is an uplifting event for many people and we look forward to participating in the annual Edgar Burton Christmas Food Drive for another 30 years,” Larochelle said.

The Sudbury Food Bank provides food to approximately 11,000 people every month through over 40 member agencies and outreach programs. Of those clients, over half are children.

Donations collected through the Edgar Burton Christmas Food Drive comprise just one quarter of the food the Sudbury Food Bank needs to serve its guests through the year.