The Rapidian

Reds on the River fights hunger during Ice Festival

As Grand Rapids' ice gurus transform Rockford, one restaurant supports food bank.
Derek Maxfield, co-owner of Grand Rapids' Ice Sculptures Ltd., getting frosty during Rockford Ice Festival 2012.

Derek Maxfield, co-owner of Grand Rapids' Ice Sculptures Ltd., getting frosty during Rockford Ice Festival 2012. /Reds on the River

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An award-winning restaurant and West Michigan’s largest hunger-relief organization are coming together during the fourth-annual Rockford Ice Festival. From 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 10, Reds on the River will donate 10 percent of its gross sales to Feeding America West Michigan Food Bank.

“I think [they] do the most good for the people that need it,” restaurant manager Lance Climie said of the Food Bank. “We like the fact that [they’re] in the business of feeding people that need to be fed.”

Last year, Feeding America West Michigan provided nearly 24 million pounds of food to more than 100,000 families in West Michigan and the Upper Peninsula. The Ice Festival donation is part of the Food Bank’s Million Meal March campaign, a push to fund an additional 1.28 million pounds through individuals and local businesses.

Reds on the River organized the first Rockford Ice Festival in 2010 with Grand Rapids-based Ice Sculptures Ltd. Now overseen by the Rockford Chamber of Commerce, the festival hopes to top last year’s turnout of 10,000, while sculptors Randy Finch and Derek Maxfield have achieved something approaching celebrity status through Food Network’s “Ice Brigade.”

Finch and Maxfield’s team will line the streets of Rockford with 40 sculptures and perform a live demonstration at Reds on the River Saturday afternoon, Climie said.

“As a nonprofit based in this community, serving this community, it makes a lot of sense to team up with local businesses,” said Ken Estelle, CEO of Feeding America West Michigan. “Reds just seems to be a wellspring of new ideas for how we can work together.”

Last summer, Reds on the River became an early sponsor of the 10K hike that kicked off Feeding America West Michigan’s Million Meal March campaign. The upcoming Rockford Restaurant Week, a joint venture of seven restaurants initiated by Reds, also supports the campaign.

“We’re so encouraged by their commitment to help our struggling neighbors,” Estelle said.

In addition to its donation, Reds on the River will collect nonperishable foods and personal care items for the Food Bank during the festival.

For more ways to take part in Feeding America West Michigan’s Million Meal March campaign, visit millionmealmarch.org.

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