The Beer Store bottle drive for Rankin Run runs throughout September

Niagara Beer Stores will be hosting a month-long bottle drive in support of the Rankin Run.  Left to right: Rachel LaMarsh, Nick Lupish and Carlene Cotton.

Those empty beer, wine and liquor bottles gathering dust in your basement and shed might only be worth pennies each, but put enough together and you have the power to help provide critical cancer supports and services in Niagara for families coping with a cancer diagnosis.

That’s because staff at The Beer Store around Niagara are launching a month-long bottle drive to support the Rankin’s Cancer Race. The all-volunteer event has raised more than $10 million for cancer care programs since its launch in 2006.

And now, after three years, the event has returned to the public after being sidelined due to the pandemic.

Nick Lupish, manager of The Beer Store at 150 Lakeport Rd. in St. Catharines, said Niagara Beer Stores has been holding bottle drives for the Rankin Run for at least six years now, after the foam distribution company organizes every year a spring bottle drive for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in conjunction with its union has decided to launch an annual bottle drive in September to benefit other local charities in the regions.

Lupish said District Manager Roy Kerling asked at the time for information about which charity to support, and Lupish said when he learned about all that Rankin Run was doing, it was obvious to support him.

“I learned pretty quickly what the Rankin Run is all about: how every penny it makes goes back to Niagara and there are no administrative fees,” he said. “It’s quite spectacular what they’ve done.”

Over the past few years, two-week bottle drives at Niagara beer stores have raised over $20,000 annually, including $22,000 last year.

This year, the event is extended to a full month, starting September 2.

Rankin Run director Mary Ann Edwards said the fact that the fundraiser in which people can donate cans and bottles of beer and bottles of liquor and wine has been extended to a month is ” crazy wonderful” to hear.

“Employees are wearing our orange (Rankin’) t-shirts, decorating their stores, and all of the employees have been truly the best,” she said. “They care deeply about helping our own and keeping all the funds raised here at home.”

In addition to supporting programs such as Wellspring Niagara’s free supports and programs and dignified end-of-life care for people at Hospices of Niagara, funds from Rankin Run have been donated to all hospitals in Niagara and have helped fund important research and treatment.

For example, Rankin’s funds helped pay for lasers similar to barcode scanners at the Walker Family Cancer Center in St. Catharines that allow women with left breast cancer to receive potentially life-saving radiation therapy with risk. reduced collateral damage to their hearts from the extremely high voltage X-ray beams.

Lupish said Beer Store employees really get involved in Rankin Run bottle drives, but he said that ultimately it’s Beer Store customers who step up when it counts.

“A lot of it is thanks to customers donating money and their empties,” he said. “All we can do is ask and it’s up to them to give their hard-working money.”