Ken Thibault is a recipient of the new Elks Proud Award, an initiative where members of the national club celebrate their peers by passing the award on to other members involved in their communities. (Vanessa Broadbent photo)
By Vanessa Broadbent
Every year, food banks all throughout B.C.’s interior are stocked with local apples, courtesy of Ken Thibault, a member and past president of Osoyoos Elks Lodge 436.
Thibault has organized the apple drive for the past 13 years and now the Elks are recognizing him for his years of service.
He’s the recipient of a new Elks Proud Award that launched last year and is given from members to other members. Each recipient is asked to pass on the award to another Elks member, within about two weeks of getting it.
Ron Ethier, a member of the Oliver Elks Lodge 267 who organizes weekly breakfasts, chose to pass the award on to Thibault.
“He does some great things for the Elks in Osoyoos,” Ethier said. “He’s always doing something there. He’s the one who jumps on his tractor and clears the snow (at the lodge).”
• Read more: Elks’ Grand Exalted Ruler praises work by Osoyoos Lodge
Thibault has only been in possession of the award for a week, and he’s still thinking about who he’ll pass it on to.
Although there are plenty of involved members in the Osoyoos lodge, he said he’s leaning towards presenting it to a member of a lodge in another community.
“It doesn’t do any good if someone gets it and just hangs on to it and it dies here,” Thibault said. “The true value is passing it on, and now I’m going to know more about the community where I’m going to pass it on to.
“I’m hoping that I’m going to take people with me to wherever we go to give it out so we’ll form a bit of a bond between both communities so that when you drive through Oliver you know a face as compared to just being in a room full of strangers.”
Thibault has been a member of the Elks club for 12 years. He initially joined the club after he started the apple drive on his own but had issues delivering the fruit to Prince George.
The first year he partnered with a moving and storage company, but by the time they delivered the apples they had been sitting in a sun-baked shipping container for week and turned into mush.
So the next year he bought a flat deck truck but it broke down three times on the drive north.
• Read more: Elks to celebrate 60 years of service to Osoyoos
That’s when the Elks stepped in and helped him deliver the apples. Now they’re brought to the Elks lodge in Prince George and from there members from all over the interior bring them to food banks in their communities.
“All the food banks get all these apples at no cost. Each Elks lodge takes care of the shipping and everything.”
Thibault wanted to give back to the club and became a member.
“From there it just grew,” he said. “I’ve become more involved in my community and I’ve participated in so many different things.
In its 14 years, the apple drive program has donated 153,000 pounds of apples. This last season was one of the largest with local orchards, including Casa del Mell, Lual Orchards and Rusty Gate, donating 19,200 pounds.
“Everything we do comes back to our community and makes where we live a little better,” Thibault said.