Charity begins … on their feet

Photo by Jason KUROSU Runners spent their Thanksgiving morning working for their turkey with a 5K run that not only helped their cardio but those in need by donating hundreds of cans of food for the homeless.


The charitable values of Thanksgiving were accentuated for foothill residents this holiday season as they started off their Thanksgiving day with a run for charity. That morning marked the 17th annual Thanksgiving Day Run and Food Drive Event, a 5K run organized by the Community Center of La Cañada-Flintridge (CCLCF).

Residents were out in full force at Memorial Park in La Cañada where food was being collected, live music by the International Superstars of Rock was being performed for the participants and the starting line for the run was set up.

The run began at 8:30 with the route proceeding down Foothill Boulevard, bordered by cones and police cars strategically parked to block off traffic from cross streets. Participants ran along this cone-littered, traffic barren path before making a U-turn at Castle Lane right before Rosemont Avenue and coming back to the finish line at Memorial Park. A separate one mile kids’ race took place after the 5K run, although many children ran the 5K as well as several whole families took part in the run, including toddlers being wheeled in strollers by their running parents and even dogs galloping alongside their owners.

The Community Center had been accepting food collections since Oct. 25 up until the day of the event, with non-perishable food items filling the bed of a large truck to capacity. CCLCF partnered with Allied Waste Services to organize the event, with the donations going to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank for the first time rather than the Crescenta Valley Sheriff‘s Department. The Food Bank gives food to nearly 900 organizations and distributed 54 million pounds of food to the needy in 2009 alone. They also did their part in helping the organization of the Thanksgiving Day Run, supplying food bins and other equipment to aid the donation process. Past Thanksgiving Day Runs have netted around 10,000 cans each time and the goal this year was to double it, and all reports indicate that that amount has been reached. Contributions from sponsors were also very generous, with around $12,000 donated from sponsors from businesses and schools around La Cañada.

The volunteer turnout for the event was as impressive as the turnout for the run. Event Coordinator Melissa Mills indicated somewhere around 80 volunteers helping out at Memorial Park, from high school students to residents who had simply heard about the run and wanted to come out and make a difference.

The runners themselves, also making their contributions for the donations, were center stage for their part in the run. They crossed the finish line to the applause and cheers of family and friends. Many were happy they had taken part in charity and some were happy to get some exercise in for the day, while still others were relieved that they had actually made it to the finish.

La Cañada residents Denise and Mark Graham completed the run and waited at the finish line for their children, who were still running.

“It’s a family tradition,” they said of the run, a remark heard often throughout the morning from lifelong residents. There was another resounding sentiment heard from the heavy-breathing but happy runners, which the Grahams also voiced – one that capped off the beginning of a glorious day of giving.

“It’s time to eat.”