Tenth annual Turkey Trot to raise funds

The tenth annual Central Texas Turkey Trot will take place this Saturday, with prizes ranging from cash money to frozen turkeys or pumpkin pies. Both the 5K and the 10K will start at Cameron Park East at 9:00 a.m.

Proceeds from the race will go toward Altrusa International of the Brazos and a service project that is near and dear to their hearts.

This year, they have chosen to give 75 percent of the money made to The Cove, a free standing nonprofit that seeks to serve homeless students on the streets in Waco.

Susan Duecy, spokesperson for Altusa International of the Brazos, said that it is easier for these children to find a couch to sleep on than it is for them to find a safe place to stay between school letting out and bed time.

“I think The Cove is something they need in order to feel like they have a home to go to, because otherwise, some of them are our there in the elements, fending for themselves everyday,” said Ovida Williams, president of Altrusa International of the Brazos.

As soon as The Cove finds a facility, they will open their doors Monday through Thursday, from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

“The kids are so vulnerable to human trafficking, once they are actually living on the street,” Duecy said. “It makes me sick that kids have to barter their bodies to get to shelter or just for the basic necessities.”

Altrusa’s goal is to help these students with school supplies, meals, money for caps and gowns and provide a room if they need one.

Duecy said getting homeless students to graduate is important because it gives them a better start to their adulthood.

Less than 25 percent of homeless students graduate in Texas. However, in 2013, 93 percent of homeless students in the Waco Independent School District graduated, according to Family Abuse Center’s website.

Duecy said that rate went up to 100 percent in 2015 thanks to Kathy Wigtil and Cheryl Pooler, who run the homeless outreeach services at Waco ISD. Duecy said that Altrusa was so touched by Pooler’s passion and their plans for The Cove that they gave the proceeds from their race to The Cove for the first time last year.

The Cove has been formed by citizens now, thanks to Pooler and Wigtil, but creating an actual nonprofit organization out of the group of citizens cost money. Altrusa was able to give them $6,400 in 2014.

“With the funds that we had provided to them, they were able to pay for the attorney and apply to the IRS and still help students,” Duecy said.

Williams said she is very grateful for the opportunity that the Turkey Trot gives Altrusa to financially support worthwhile projects in the community.

Since this is their tenth Turkey Trot, this is the first year they will add the 10K. The registration cost for the 10K is $35, and registration for the 5K is $30.

More information can be found on www.signmeup.com/108397 and the route can be seen on http://www.usatf.org/routes/view.asp?rID=570130.

“We may be small, but we’re mighty and we’re still proud of the part we can do in our community, because the money stays right here in the community,” Williams said.

Altrusa International of the Brazos is part of an international service organization with chapters all over the world. Their chapter meets the second and fifth Wednesdays of the month at the Sironia Restaurant in Waco at about 11:30 a.m. More information can be found on their website or at their meetings. The club is open to men and women of all different ages with hearts and hands for service.