Elementary school’s Turkey Trot yields big donation

By Tammy Keith Published November 25, 2012 at 12:00 a.m.
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PHOTO BY: Rusty Hubbard

Lt. Russell Clay with The Salvation Army Conway Corps shows some of the 2,000 nonperishable food items students collected at Jim Stone Elementary School in Conway through the Turkey Trot food drive. Students also turned over $2,300 they received during the effort.

— Lots of families will have food on their tables this holiday because Jim Stone Elementary School students ran laps earlier this month.

The Turkey Trot, a food drive that’s been held a decade or more at the Conway school, brought in 2,000 food items and $2,300 for The Salvation Army Conway Corps.

Jim Stone Principal Mark Lewis said the students collected a “humongous” amount of food.

“They filled up a huge box truck,” he said.

Lt. Russell Clay, corps officer, said it was the biggest single donation he’s seen in the 1 1/2 years he’s been in Conway.

“Oh, my goodness. So much food came in and filled those pantry shelves, it’s crazy, and cash on top of that,” Clay said.

Debbie Hendrix, social-services director, said it’s the biggest donation she’s seen in the four years she’s been employed there.

The needs have been growing, too, Clay said.

“We turn away more than we can feed. We get it in, and it goes right back out,” he said. “This will be tremendous in helping getting food boxes to the community and feeding Conway.”

In the Turkey Trot, students are asked to get sponsors of canned food or money for each lap they run on the school track.

“It’s a fun way to do it with the kids; they love it,” Lewis said.

“We have a group of teachers that work on philanthropy, because we think it’s very important for our students to learn that at an early age,” he said.

One participant was fourth-grader Tyler Trickey, 9, the son of Kelli and Bart Trickey.

“I brought two $50 checks, and during the Turkey Trot, I ran 16 laps,” he said.

“It’s fun to do a food drive,” he said.

Physical-education specialist Laurel Breashears came up with the idea about a decade ago.

“They have PE once a week, and during that PE time, they go around the track. They can run or walk, and we keep up with how many laps they do,” Breashears said. “I record it on their papers, and the sponsors give them the food or cash for each lap.

“The kids — they really worked hard. I did a reward thing, and we talked about before they actually did the Turkey Trot that the day wasn’t for them, and they needed to think about helping their community, and if they got a little hot or tired, they needed to think about the people they were helping.”

Tyler listened.

“I was sweating like an animal and getting tired, but I kept going,” Tyler said. “I thought about the people I was running for and helping.”

The event is held every other year, and nonprofit organizations are rotated to receive the donations.

Lewis said the mound of canned food was kept in the lobby so when the students walked past it, “they see something tangible they have done in the combination of physical fitness and philanthropy.

“We pride ourselves in doing local and state [philanthropy] and culminate in the spring with our chicken dance with the orphanage in Kenya,” Lewis said.

He said The Salvation Army food pantry also gets items from the Rice Depot and from Harps Food Store in Conway and buys from the Arkansas Food Bank. The food pantry, housed in the office at 950 Carson Cove, is open from 8 a.m. to noon and from 1-4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

Niche Publications Senior Writer Tammy Keith can be reached at 501-327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

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