Holiday giving — be a ‘job creator’

December 3, 2013

By Greg Farrar

Extraordinary acts of generosity never cease to amaze me during the holidays in Issaquah, and it’s a privilege to see some of them up close on assignment with a camera.

Among the first of many that will be going on throughout the month, it is a pleasure to report on the first two I’ve been sent to cover. There are more events to come, and it’s never too late to step up to the plate and help those in need.

Greg Farrar Press photographer

Greg Farrar
Press photographer

At Issaquah High School on Nov. 26, it was stunning to see a portion of the floor in the commons covered in a blanket of canned and boxed food. Tying in the food drive with the release of the popular “Hunger Games” movie sequel, students Amanda Levenson and Juliana Da Cruz thought a friendly competition would get interest from a lot of their classmates.

It sure did! They divided the school into 13 districts and The Capital like in the movie, and the districts whose students brought in the most food went further in the competition, with other districts then joining together to “overthrow” the leaders by bringing in even more food.

The lead went back and forth as alliances shifted, kids increased their efforts and interest increased. An evening viewing of the first “Hunger Games” movie in the school theater helped get the adrenaline going, too.

At the end of the competition, Issaquah High School students had brought in 12,030 food items to donate. A floor in the commons 100 feet by 10 feet was covered with bags, boxes and cartons of nonperishable items. Then, 60 students stayed after school to volunteer, packing and loading a large panel truck for the delivery.

The Issaquah Food & Clothing Bank reports that 15,000 pounds of food were raised by the “Hunger Games” held by the students.

Two days later was Thanksgiving Day, and the fourth annual Turkey Trot 5K run, started by Heather and Tom Matthews, is growing by leaps and bounds. Fog gave way to bright morning sunshine at Pickering Place, as an event that doubled in size the second year and tripled again in the third year, grew by another third this year!

The parking lot was overflowing on a nonshopping day for most businesses. The road was cordoned off and packed like sardines for two blocks, with people listening to music on the loudspeakers, ready for the starting horn.

There seemed to be no end in sight to the turkey hats, pilgrim costumes and chicken suits, as people from 1 to 80 years old, groups of kids and families with baby strollers came out to think of others and make something more out of the holiday than an exercise in self-indulgence and Black Thursday shopping.

When the running, jogging and walking was over, the 2013 edition of the Turkey Trot 5K had seen 1,901 adults and 518 children take part and raise $35,000 for the food bank!

Both of these events were started by just a few committed and giving individuals. If you want to know how one person or two can change the world, here is the proof. You could be the next one to make a big impact.

There will be many more schools, groups and organizations having their own holiday food and fundraisers for the less fortunate between now and the new year. As usual, the people of Issaquah are among the most generous and thoughtful in the world. Find your calling!

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