2018 Float Your Boat Cardboard Regatta Photo Essay

By: Stephen Bybee | sbybee@newzgroup.com

Food insecurity is an increasingly familiar problem to families and individuals who struggle to balance today’s rising cost of living with a household budget already stretched too thin. Local and regional food banks address this issue by providing those in need with a source of fresh and non-perishable grocery items at no cost or obligation to the recipient. In order to maintain a constant supply of grocery items, food banks rely on corporate sponsors, donations, and the occasional fundraiser. In Columbia, Missouri, one of the more creative fundraisers undertaken by the Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri is the Float Your Boat Cardboard Regatta.

Held annually at the lake behind Columbia’s Bass Pro Shops, Float Your Boat is a boat race open to anyone brave enough to build and pilot a cardboard craft across a Missouri lake in early spring.  Boats are built with cardboard, glue, latex paint and duct tape.  The list of restricted boat-building materials includes wood, plastic, Styrofoam, metal, foil, urethane, fiber tape, packing tape, and anything else which might conceivably cause a cardboard structure to float and remain water-tight.  I was honored to be asked to serve as the photographer for the 2018 Float Your Boat, and the photos that follow give an idea of the energy and ingenuity that the boat-building participants bring to this fundraiser.

This year the Float Your Boat was the 7th time the event was held for the Food Bank, and it helped to raise $81,000 through registrations, donations, in-kind gifts, and sponsorships.  Over forty teams submitted entries to compete in the regatta, and each of them brought their own unique sense of boatbuilding creativity to the proceedings.  Because of an affiliation with an organization called Feeding America, and through bulk purchasing power, the money raised by the event allowed the Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri to purchase over $1.7 million in groceries that it will distribute to those in need.  Serving thirty-two counties in the central and northeast Missouri area, they serve nearly one hundred thousand people.  The next fundraiser for the Food Bank will take place on Saturday, May 12th in the form of the NALC Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive.  Food donations for the Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive can be left on your doorstep for your postal carrier on Saturday morning, at which time it will be picked up and delivered to the food bank or food pantry in your area.

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