Thanksgiving fundraiser aims to stuff food bank’s coffers

November 6, 2012

By Warren Kagarise

Runners race in the 2011 Issaquah Turkey Trot 5K near Pickering Barn during the holiday event. Contributed

Heather Matthews set out to raise dollars for the Issaquah Food & Clothing Bank amid the busy holiday season and, in the process, created a Thanksgiving tradition.

In 2010, she launched the Issaquah Turkey Trot, a 5K fundraiser, after she ran in similar races in Seattle and decided to import the idea to Issaquah to raise dollars for the local food bank.

The 3.12-mile race returns Nov. 22 for another holiday outing. The event is geared for families and, like a treasured recipe passed from generation, is a Thanksgiving tradition for some participants.

“People are looking for a way to give back and for something to do that day that shows they’re thankful for what they have,” Matthews said.

The initial Issaquah Turkey Trot raised more than $4,600 for the nonprofit food bank and, last year, donations amounted to $8,000 and more than 200 pounds of food. Matthews set a goal to raise $15,000 for the food bank at the upcoming event.

“It has blown my mind how this community has supported this event,” she said. “It has shocked me, in how much it’s grown. I can’t believe it.”

The number of runners increased between 2010 and 2011, and Matthews expects more than 1,000 participants to join the upcoming race.

Children can participate in the Gobble Wobble, a race to collect punches on a card at stations set up along the course.

The event is the largest fundraiser for the food bank. Demand for the organization’s services often increases during the holiday season.

What to know

Issaquah Turkey Trot

  • 9 a.m. Nov. 22
  • The entry fee for adults and children 11 and older is $25. Register before Nov. 11 to be guaranteed a T-shirt.
  • The cost for children 10 and younger is $5, and includes a T-shirt and Gobble Wobble punch card.
  • The route starts and ends at City Hall Northwest, 1775 12th Ave. N.W.
  • Email questions to gobble@issaquahturkeytrot.org. Learn more about the event at www.issaquahturkeytrot.org.

The food bank serves clients from throughout the Issaquah School District — from Preston to Newcastle, and from Sammamish to Renton.

Matthews said she hoped to capture the spirit of giving in the Issaquah Turkey Trot.

“The spirit that is there on that Thanksgiving morning, with everybody in the community, just makes a really fun family tradition,” she said.

Snow greeted the runners on the morning the Issaquah Turkey Trot debuted in November 2010, but more than 200 runners completed the course in chilly conditions.

Before the race started last year, Matthews glanced at the 600 or so runners near the starting line and felt overwhelmed with emotion. The project she started on a whim only a year earlier had already turned into a holiday routine for some participants.

“It’s becoming a family tradition for a lot of people in our community,” she said.

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