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‘Turkey Trot’ gobbles up record funds thanks to huge turnout

The community turned out in record numbers for the 16th annual Thanksgiving Day Trot Against Poverty, known fondly as the Turkey Trot, to benefit United Against Poverty. A slight fall nip in the pre-dawn air gave rise to a spectacular sunrise, as all ages of runners, walkers and some four-legged friends took part in what has become a favorite Thanksgiving tradition.

Prior to the main race, eager youngsters made a mad dash in the kids run, and post-race, everyone chowed down on another tradition, a sweet potato pancake breakfast.

“This is what a small town is all about,” said Michael Pierce, the presenting sponsor in memory of his late wife Kathie. He said their involvement, individually and through their family foundation, began 10 years ago.

“We helped launch the Member Share Grocery program at the center because we realized how important it is. We support anything related to food insecurity and poverty,” said Pierce.

Pre-race, Matt Tanner, UP executive director, addressed the record crowd that stretched as far as the eye could see.

“If you look around, we’ve got over 2,300 people here that signed up. Thanksgiving is a day to give thanks, it’s a day to count your blessings. And on behalf of all of us here at United Against Poverty, we feel so blessed to have you guys here with us this morning,” said Tanner.

“It supports us tremendously. It allows us to meet our mission and help adults who are dealing with food insecurity, with crisis, and who want to find better work and ultimately lift themselves out of poverty. So we want to thank you so much for being here.”

Tanner said that they expected to raise more than $100,000, another record, stressing that the funding is critically needed.

“This is an opportunity for us to get that last push of the year; to have the resources that we need to continue to meet our mission into the next year,” said Tanner.

“I’m ecstatic. It’s awesome to see so many people come out and support a great cause,” said Allison Zukowski, race director and UP development manager. She added that there were 500 more participants than last year, and 200 more than their 2019 pre-COVID record.

Jane McNulty Snead, UP development director, said that since their spacious UP Center opened in January 2020, it has become a community hub for other nonprofits, enabling wraparound services for families.

“We’ve had almost 100 nonprofits and organizations use the building this year for all kinds of things,” she said.

For example, they use it to hold workshops and meetings, or to meet with people who come in through their Crisis Stabilization program. Additionally, 90 nonprofits participated in their second annual Community Resource Fair in March.

At the conclusion of the race, Michael Pierce was presented with a large plaque in memory of Kathie Pierce, which called her “a driving force in our community,” that will be installed in the Member Share Grocery to recognize her of her generosity and dedication to United Against Poverty.

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