Students raise money through sponsors and donations and pledge to perform 4 exercises for every dollar collected.
100% of all donations are used to purchase turkey dinners through Hy-Vee in Altoona and these are donated to Caring Hands Outreach Center in Altoona, IA for the Thanksgiving & Christmas holidays.
Here is our history:
East Coast Tae Kwon Do began their philanthropic fundraiser, known as “Fitness For Food,” back in 2010, with nothing but growth ever since. Owner and instructor of ECTKD, Norman Wrigley was touched when he learned about the Caring Hands Outreach Center that supported an astounding number of local children and families in the area with much needed items such as food and daily personal items. Mr. Wrigley knew from day one of opening his school back in January of 2010, that community service would be an important life lesson he wanted his students involved in, and better yet, community service that would directly give back to their own community.
As Mr. Wrigley was diving into this opportunity to help his community out, he also recognized that the State of Iowa was undergoing much attention and media campaigning about making Iowa a healthier state overall. With a goal in mind to avoid having his students sell foods and products nobody wanted like every other typical school fundraiser, he wanted active involvement instead. After sharing his ideas with locals in the area, he learned of Hy-Vee’s pre order meals for families during the holidays. The idea came up to encourage his students through hard work to “earn” the funding for these meals, that would in turn provide a holiday dinner that a family would not have otherwise. “I wanted to raise money to be able to purchase these dinners, and I wanted to have the students learn that they needed to “earn” these donations. I wanted them 100% involved in the process, beginning to end,” Wrigley states as he explains his vision for this fundraiser.
Collaboration between the local Hy-Vee and Caring Hands outreach allowed this idea to become a reality. Every dollar raised by East Coast Tae Kwon Do students would result in 4 exercises, where the name “Fitness for Food” began. Once the students had done their exercises, and earned their dollars, the funding was collected and used to purchase the holiday turkey dinners for a family of 4. These meal certificates were then distributed through Caring Hands during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays for those families in need.
Year after year since 2010, improvements have grown along with the program, making it something Mr. Wrigley only dreamed of. A few years back after getting the fundraiser up and running, ECTKD decided to reach out to local businesses and ask them to donate small items like coupons, posters, balls, etc. which in turn created goody bags as a thank you to all of the students for their hard work.
2016 brought the largest success Fitness for Food had seen to date. Parents of the students teamed up to gather generous donations from local businesses once again, while pairing up with the Altoona Farrells as well with 2 marathon kickboxing classes led by owners Jeff and Nicole Essink to raise money as well. Blessed with a few large donations, and many smaller donations adding up, Fitness for Food was ready for the biggest event yet.
The school would come together one night before the event to count up the donations and calculate the amount raised and exercises to be done. Mayor of Altoona, Mr. Skip Conklin would often be present to show his support to the students and the school. Not only did this raise public attention, but police officers, firemen, newspaper journalists and the local news station Channel 13 all invested their time into making this fundraiser known to the public. Parents of the students provide food and snacks for the kids after their long night of exercising per dollar raised, followed by a team of support to help make the event possible, from setup to tear down.
2017’s Fitness for Food event is starting to look even bigger than 2016, and they hope to have even more support from friends and community members as the roots of this event is all about giving back to a local community that has done so much to make East Coast Tae Kwon Do a successful school, based on hard work, life lessons, fun, and community service.