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The Annual High Country Turkey Trot Raises Food and Funds for Hungry Neighbors in Need on Thanksgiving

By Madison Fisler Lewis

Nov. 17, 2014. On Thanksgiving, Thursday, Nov. 27, the Hospitality House will once again host the High Country Turkey Trot, an annual 5K race to benefit the Hospitality House of Boone. The annual event is held each year on Thanksgiving and provides a way for the local community to raise food and funds to help out hungry neighbors in need on the day when many are the most thankful.

Thanksgiving%20RaceAll of the proceeds from the race will benefit the Hospitality House, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that helps to benefit local people in homeless, crisis and poverty situations in the areas that the organization serves.

The route will follow the Greenway Trail Path at Clawson-Burnley Park in Boone. The timed run will kick off promptly at 9 a.m. with casual walkers, runners and joggers immediately following. Parking for participants will be available at the Watauga Parks and Recreation lot on Hunting Hills Lane.

Pre-registration is available online until Nov. 25. Pre-registration will cost $30 for adults and teens, and $10 for kids 12 and under. For those who would rather snooze than run, but still want to help out a great cause, the Turkey Trot offers a unique “sleep-in” option, where you can receive a t-shirt, pay for registration but not have to participate in the run. This option is perfect for those who are stuck at home cooking for Thanksgiving but still want to spread a little holiday cheer anyway. Registration is available here.

“With 750 participants from 22 different states, two foreign countries and 58 unique North Carolina cities, the High Country Turkey Trot is the premier 5K in the High Country,” read a press release. “Since its inception in 2011, the Turkey Trot has raised $54,000 and 2,000 pounds of food for those that are hungry and in need.”

“We have been hoping to cross the $25,000 mark, we were really close last year,” said Todd Carter, director of development for Hospitality House.”

But money is not the only thing raised at the Turkey Trot.

“We would love to raise 1,000 pounds of food too. Last year we raised 800 pounds. We ask that people bring food donations with them and we have bins set up and we will take anything. If people want to bring milk, we will take it. We will take whatever people want to give. One of the big reasons is that the need for our food pantry triples in the winter, so we are doing three times as much food and we want to be able to offer people enough food in their food boxes so that if they get stuck in their homes because of the weather, they will be okay,” said Carter.

Usually, a food box from Hospitality House lasts three days. But with the changing weather, the stress of the extra need on the food pantry could use a little bit of a boost.

“That is why the food donations are key during all of the food drives all year,” Carter said. “We see such a spike in demand and we really want to reach that. We get a lot of corn and beans, and it would be nice to get some peanut butter and jelly, cheese, eggs, more proteins. We are hoping that people will think outside the box. Lunch meat, sandwich things, that kind of stuff.”

Because of the great sponsors this year, 100 percent of the registration money will get donated straight to the Hospitality House.

“All of everyone’s contributions go to provide housing, supportive services and food for our kitchen where we serve 12,000 meals a month,” Carter said. “On average last year, it cost us $36 per person per day to operate, so that $30 in registration is almost paying for one person for one day, but not quite, and we provided 34,000 nights of shelter, food and services last year.”

After the run, participants can warm up with hot apple cider provided by Dougherty Realty, water and fruit provided by Earth Fare and free protein bar samples.

And while you’re out, why not pick up your Christmas tree before heading home to the family? Participants will have the option of purchasing a Christmas tree at the event, where $20 from each tree sold will be donated to the Hospitality House. You also have the option of purchasing an honor card, to donate in honor or in memory of someone. And of course, don’t forget to dress up for the costume contest.

If you are looking for a way to participate without running, the event is still in need of sponsors.

“We are in desperate need of volunteers,” Carter said. “We need people to cheerlead, we need people to help sort food, we need people to hand out t-shirts, we need people to direct parking, we need people to man the water stations and hand out power bars and we need people to help man the race as far as recording and timing.”

Those interested in volunteering can contact todd at todd@hosphouse.org.

“This is the 103rd year that a Turkey Trot has been run in America,” Carter said. “It is a national tradition all over the country. Studies have shown that Thanksgiving Day is the single most philanthropic day of the year in America, More people want to do something good for someone else on Thanksgiving more than any other day of the year. That is why this event is so popular.”

Currently, around 350 registrations have already come in with plenty more expected to follow.

“They are coming in almost hourly right now,” said Carter. “We are expecting another 300 preregistrations, and we will expect another 200-400 people to register the day of.”

Day-of registration is $35 for adults and $15 for kids. Carter encourages those who wish to receive a t-shirt to register sooner rather than later.

“The registrations are coming in fast and furious,” said Carter. “I would encourage people to register by Sunday [Nov. 23]. We are looking forward to having yet another great event.”

For more information about the High Country Turkey Trot, click here.