The upsides of running are many: improved cardiovascular fitness; heightened overall health; increased energy and stamina.
And for participants in the annual Granville Island Turkey Trot, each Thanksgiving Monday, the opportunity to assist those less fortunate also features prominently on the list. Proceeds from the run go the Greater Vancouver Food Bank, a body that depends entirely on fundraising, charity and corporate support.
The 2011 Turkey Trot sent $3,445 and 700 lbs of food to the food bank, despite a slightly lower turnout than the year before, of roughly 1,500 people.
“[Such events] are absolutely essential for us to be able to provide the services and programs that we do,” said Doug Aason, the organization’s Director of Community Investment.
At the food bank, the global economic crisis has resulted in dwindling reserves and vacant shelves.
“The year before last, my goodness, I walked into the warehouse one day and thought ‘Holy crap! This is really scary,’” recalled Aason.
Overcoming lean years
By the fall of 2009, demand for food bank services in Greater Vancouver had increased by 10 per cent, commensurate with a post-recession dip in donations citywide.
Contributions from the Turkey Trot, on the other hand, reached an all-time high in 2009.
“People seemed to be more aware and more empathetic [because of the financial crisis],” said Turkey Trot race coordinator Liz Urbach, who has run in 10 of the past 12 Trots.
Generosity from members of the community has helped the Vancouver Food Bank recover from the low point, and that same munificence allows the organization to survive, said Aason.
In lean years, community fundraisers and food drives are instrumental in enabling the organization to serve over 25,000 people in need each week.
But Aason said the positives of the Trot extend beyond monetary and alimentary contributions.
“It’s about being visible [in the community]. Association is very important. If you’re associated with winners, like the Turkey Trot event … that really puts your organization in good stead. The spin-offs are great.”
Canadian Army Veteran Norman May, 86, joined his daughter, son-in-law, niece, and grandson in this year’s 10 km mini-marathon.
The Trot was May’s fourth, and the event’s support of the Food Bank is a big draw for him.
“I don’t know the exact figures, but [any event] that raises funds for the Food Bank is a good thing,” he said.