by Larry Lewis
If you have run the Stockade-athon in the last several years (except 2020), you likely encountered the volunteers from Concerned for the Hungry (CfH) at packet pickup at Fleet Feet on the day before the race. Prior to the race, runners receive an e-mail asking them to bring a non-perishable food item or money to support the annual Thanksgiving (42nd year) Food Basket event in Schenectady to the packet pickup. It is our signature event, and we’ll be back at Fleet Feet this year!
The all-volunteer Concerned for the Hungry provides 4 days of food to eligible families in Schenectady County. In a typical year we feed about 2500 families - close to 8000 people. We accomplish our mission with 300+ volunteers AND generous donations of food and money from folks like you.
What’s the connection between the CfH Thanksgiving program and the Stockade-athon? The Stockade-athon is the largest race in Schenectady and perhaps the oldest. CfH’s Thanksgiving program is the largest volunteer effort in Schenectady. I ran 20 Stockade-athons, starting in 1982, so I’m familiar with the race and with many of the runners. As an officer of CfH, it occurred to me several years ago to reach out to HMRRC to hold our food and money collection at packet pickup. You runners have not disappointed! The Stockade-athon is CfH’s largest fundraiser. Your money and food donations offset the cost of providing the fixins for a Thanksgiving meal, and more, to people in need.
CfH’s mission is to address hunger for all people in Schenectady County. Our successful Thanksgiving program in 2020 was the most challenging in our history. The pandemic canceled all of our fundraisers. We had to switch from in-person to remote sign-up of clients. We lost many of our food-drive sponsors. Donations were down. We had to institute strict COVID guidelines during our collection, sorting, packing and distribution of food. Yet, the community rallied and more than 2000 families received a large box of food, including a frozen turkey. The 2020 experience epitomizes our mission: nothing will stop our all-volunteer organization from addressing the needs of families in Schenectady. With any luck, 2021 will be more "normal" and we will serve even more people in need.
In October we’ll go back to in-person sign-ups. Eight days before Thanksgiving we will take over the Keane Elementary School (Albany Street) gym and create a pop-up food warehouse. We’ll tape up 2500+ boxes, collect items from food drives, sort food, then pack and stack the boxes. Finally, we’ll give the food to the clients and deliver to the home-bound. Did I mention volunteers? We always need volunteers. Please consider joining us this year http://www.concernedforthehungry.org/
Thank you for your support and best of luck in the race.