Weekly Feature



2018-11-07 / Lifestyles

YMCA encourages Turkey Trot participants to donate canned goods

Nonperishables to help families in need
EMILY LOSITO
Reporter


Runners jog through downtown Buffalo during the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day 2017. This year, about 14,000 people will run the 8K race beginning at 9 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 22. Runners jog through downtown Buffalo during the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day 2017. This year, about 14,000 people will run the 8K race beginning at 9 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 22. For the seventh consecutive year, the YMCA and the Food Bank of Western New York are teaming up to bring meals to families in need as people participate and cheer at the 123rd annual Turkey Trot.

In 2017, people donated canned goods to make up more than 2,700 meals for families in need around the holidays, according to Mary Ilarraza, the community relations manager for the Buffalo Niagara YMCA.

“We would love to surpass that number this year,” Ilarraza said. “The need is great all year round, but [the need] is especially great around the holidays.”

Ilarraza said she’s confident that the WNY community members will do their part to give back to people who need a helping hand.


Alissa Smithers and Carlin Opferbeck, employees at the Independent Health Family Branch YMCA, hug in front of one of the donation bins last year. Turkey Trot participants are encouraged to bring two nonperishable food items when they pick up their packets between Monday, Nov. 19, and Wednesday, Nov. 21. Alissa Smithers and Carlin Opferbeck, employees at the Independent Health Family Branch YMCA, hug in front of one of the donation bins last year. Turkey Trot participants are encouraged to bring two nonperishable food items when they pick up their packets between Monday, Nov. 19, and Wednesday, Nov. 21. She said there will be bins available for people to donate two nonperishable food items when they pick up their registration packets between Monday, Nov. 19, and Wednesday, Nov. 21, at the Independent Health Family Branch YMCA, located at 150 Tech Drive in Amherst.

“Western New York and the City of Buffalo is the city of good neighbors,” she said. “Every year it seems like we give more because the need is so great, but it’s also because the generosity in the area is so great, as well.”

Donation bins will also be available

Thanksgiving Day near the start of the race at 2564 Delaware Ave.

Geoff Falkner, the communications director for the Buffalo Niagara YMCA, said donating canned goods is another way to give back to families in need around the holidays.

“It seems like, even with the increased popularity of the Turkey Trot, there’s even a greater need for donating food and working with the

Food Bank,” Falkner said.

In a released statement, Tara A. Ellis, the president and CEO of the Food Bank of WNY, said the food drive is important to help neighbors in need.

“Though hunger is 365 days a year, the Food Bank of WNY often sees an increased need for food assistance during the holiday season,” Ellis said, then thanking the YMCA and community members. The YMCA closes registration for the Turkey Trot once 14,000 people sign up to participate in the 8K race.

If people can no longer register to race, they can always volunteer to help, Falkner said. In the past, the Turkey Trot has had about 400 volunteers to keep the oldest race in North America running smoothly, according to Falkner.

“It’s not only old, but it’s been run every year through snowstorms, blizzards and world wars and the Great Depression,” he said. “It’s testament to the community that we’ve been able to run it and keep it running every year on Thanksgiving.”

There are dozens of races on Thanksgiving Day across the country, but Falkner said none of them can quite compare to Buffalo’s tradition.

“There are other Turkey Trots now that are shorter in distance and have more runners, but none have the spirit that Western New York does and none can claim to be the oldest continually run footrace in North America,” he said.

Barricades for the race will be set up beginning at 4 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 22.

Ilarraza said the costume contest begins around 8:15 a.m.

The starting line is at Delaware and Tacoma avenues. The race begins at 9 a.m.

Participants will travel south on Delaware Avenue through Niagara Square to Church Street. They will then turn left on Church Street and head to Franklin Street. Runners will turn left on Franklin and take Franklin just past Court Street to the finish line, according to the YMCA’s website.

The post-race party will take place at the Buffalo Convention Center, 153 Franklin St. There will be a live band, refreshments and adult beverages. There will also be a family-friendly, alcohol-free zone with a DJ and refreshments across the street in the lobby of Statler City, 107 Delaware Ave.

There will be shuttle buses that run from 10 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. from Pearl Street behind the Convention Center to the North Buffalo Target Plaza parking lot, 2626 Delaware Ave.

Registration is $41.

For more information, to register or to volunteer, visit www.ymcabn.org or call

565-6000.

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