News

Food run

John Simmons | Nov 18, 2019

A runner wears a cap shaped like a turkey.

If you peeked inside C. W. Baker High School in Baldwinsville, New York, last November 22, you'd scarcely believe your eyes. On a national holiday when school was not in session, the cafeteria was "jam-packed," says Anthony Saraceni, president of the Baldwinsville Kiwanis Club.

That’s because the cafeteria served as check-in central for the 50th running of the club's annual Turkey Day Road Races. Nearly 2,500 runners were on hand to take part in the day's 5K and 10K races. 

There were so many, in fact, that it took nearly three full minutes for all runners — some dressed as pilgrims or turkeys — to clear the start/finish line at the beginning of the races. An additional 100 children participated in the day's half-mile Kids' Race.

Each year, the Baldwinsville Kiwanis Club raises US$35,000-$45,000 (primarily through runners' fees) at its annual Thanksgiving Day Road Races, and the 2018 event was no exception. All proceeds support youth programs in the greater Baldwinsville and Syracuse communities, along with the club's annual financial commitment to Kamp Kiwanis. Over the past 20 years, the Turkey Day races have raised $750,000 for area youth programs and charities.

"This is something we are very proud of," says Saraceni.

For the event’s golden anniversary, the club had another reason to celebrate. Earlier in the year, Baldwinsville's Rotary Club approached the Kiwanians about forming a partnership to raise funds for the Baldwinsville Backpack Program, designed to feed the approximately 250 local school children who go hungry on weekends without school meals. The program had struggled to gain traction in the school district and needed to raise $12,000-$15,000 to serve the children identified by school social workers as needing assistance.

"We were stunned by the number of children in our community who needed our help,” says Saraceni, “and we made a unanimous pledge to end this terrible situation."

The club launched an all-out food drive under the supervision of new members Deacon Joe Casper of the Catholic Diocese of Syracuse and his wife (and community leader), Amy.  They asked Turkey Day runners to bring nonperishable food items to the race.
"We had tremendous support from our runners, the people of Baldwinsville and the church community," Saraceni says. “Our food drive exceeded our expectations in that we raised over $43,000 of donated food, enough to fully stock the Baldwinsville Backpack Program for the entire year and to fill every food pantry in the Baldwinsville area, with the remainder going to other food pantries in the Greater Syracuse area. The dedication and commitment of our entire membership, their countless hours of planning and execution — along with their being just good Kiwanians — made the 50th running of our Turkey Day Road Races an amazing experience."

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