By Anne Larsen
Ask any first-grader to describe Thanksgiving traditions and you’ll hear things like “we cook a big turkey and eat lots of pie” or “my mom freaks out and cleans all day and then people come over.” And while turkey is hands-down my favorite white meat (organic, free range, locally grown by happy people) and I love pie, I do think there is a little bit of room in between “freakishly cleaning” and chow time. Plenty of room in fact for a few new traditions, and then we can eat pie!
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi
New Tradition #1- Volunteer! Yep, I know…. you thought I was going to say get out there and run (which I highly recommend, but that’s later in the article). Right now I want you to get out there and volunteer. Grab the kids, spouse, co-worker or running partner and support any of the amazing nonprofits in our community.
Sometimes I need someone to coordinate my life for me – and I am thankful that we have such people in our community! I need structure to set the date, coordinate, and round up the troops to spark me into action! On Sunday, November 18th, Guerilla Running did such a thing when over 100 Guerilla Runners and their families converged on the Thurston County Food Bank, and showed the world what runners do best – give back! (You thought I was going to say look great in spandex, didn’t you…..tricked you!)
Guerilla Running has a long history of donating money and food to the Thurston County Food Bank from their Thanksgiving Day run “The Oly Trot,” which is a benefit run for the food bank. But this year the tradition of volunteering at the food bank was introduced, and the outpouring of support was amazing.
When I showed up with my kids the place was packed and parking was limited. The kids and I found our volunteer home in the “food sorting” area, where the experienced food bank volunteers educated us on the sorting routine. This is a highly organized operation, with very specific sorting requirements – if you’re the uber organized type, you may have a true calling sorting at the food bank! We worked along-side veteran food bank volunteers, fellow runners, and family members. The kids had such a good time that they did not want to leave.
The Thurston County Food Bank can use volunteers year round. Building from their philosophy of “that the hungry must be fed in an atmosphere of neighbor helping neighbor” the food bank works in collaboration with community partners to operate fifteen satellite Food Banks. Along with the satellite Food Banks they also operate mobile food banks at nine low-income neighborhoods to reduce access barriers for those in need. The main location in downtown Olympia (where we volunteered) provides food using the client choice model, which allows families to choose the food they want, instead of receiving premade bags. My kids especially liked sorting the “kids’ corner” food. Read more about the For Kids program which delivers backpacks full of food to 31 elementary schools and one HeadStart program.
To learn more about the Thurston County Food Bank, click here.
“The most important key to achieving great success is to decide upon your goal and launch, get started, take action, move.”- John Wooden
Starting at Capital Lake, this scenic run takes you around the lake, up through our beautiful Capitol Campus, and back down to the lake. It truly showcases 4 miles of our great town! This will be my second year volunteering at the race (look for me at the water stop on the top of Columbia Ave). Although I am always amazed by the super speedy runners, it’s all of the families and friends running this race together that makes me smile.
Every year Guerilla Running organizes some super cool swag to include – a Headsweats Reversible Beanie this year, and every participant receives a finishing medal (which can be worn all day long -nothing like a finisher medal with a festive holiday sweater to spark conversation around the dinner table.)
All participants are asked to donate at least two non-perishable food items to the run. Last year, Guerilla Running donated over 3 truckloads of food, along with a monetary donation to our food bank.
Guerilla Running has not only introduced a much needed Thanksgiving Day run to the folks of Thurston County – The Oly Trot – but has created an institution of giving that is what the Thanksgiving Holiday is all about. Thank you!
To register for Oly Trot, click here.