The COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed many aspects of American life. Our move to a virtual Montlake Turkey Trot has necessitated embracing these changes and finding creative solutions. One of the first things we confronted was how to safely get race swag to participants. We had a few volunteers willing to deliver locally and decided to mail packages to non-locals. These plans all changed when Maxwell Burton, founder of the Seattle Pedaling Relief Project, contacted us about volunteering. This past weekend, Burton and race director, Tyler Mangum, put together an action plan and mobilized 18 bicycle volunteers to deliver race packages to 117 households, saving the race ~$1,000 in shipping costs!
Burton started the Seattle Pedaling Relief Project in Spring of this year when he found himself furloughed from the Cascade Bicycle Club and researching food insecurity. He knew that a lot of his fellow bike enthusiasts had similar down time and an idea clicked. Why not come together and see how they could help? The mission of the Seattle Pedaling Relief Project is to further the use of the bicycle as a tool for social justice and combating food insecurity. What that means in practice is that this group of ~350 volunteers delivers food from different food banks to families across the greater Seattle area on their bicycles. Burton says they also perform “food rescues” from establishments that donate food to the food banks. One of the added and perhaps unexpected benefits is the bicyclists have found an increased connection to their community. Burton tells me that for many of his volunteers they used to view parts of Seattle through the lens of the bicycle route and a place to ride through, not necessarily as communities. This project has allowed them to stop and get to know people in those communities. They are feeling more connected as a result and gaining more understanding of the struggles many are currently facing. This was not something he anticipated, but thinks it’s an added bonus to the work they are doing to get food to those in need.
Burton and his organization serve 5 food banks throughout Seattle, including the University District Food Bank (UDFB), which is how Burton learned about the Montlake Turkey Trot. Since the Montlake Turkey Trot started in 2016, community building has always been part of our own mission and we are proud that we were able to partner with another organization, like the Seattle Pedaling Relief Project, that also values community. Each year, we witness the strength of our community through our steadfast volunteers, eager participants, and generous supporters. Folks like John and Carol Cordy, 41-year Montlake residents, eagerly give hours of their time each year to help with the Trot. Additionally, we have brought on board new Montlake residents, like Tyler Mangum, who loved the event so much he agreed to direct it this year! Board members from the UDFB, like Joseph Smith (pictured above), have also been helping in any way they can over the last four years. Interested in getting involved? Consider joining the Turkey Trot efforts now or in 2021. Burton says SPRP is also eager to have more volunteers.
You can still sign up for the Montlake Turkey Trot through tomorrow at midnight and donations will continue to be accepted through this weekend. If you are just signing up for the race, are local, and want your swag before Thursday, email firstname.lastname@example.org and we can arrange for porch pickup. Otherwise, swag will be delivered after Thanksgiving. While the donations and participation has been strong, especially considering the virtual format, we are still well short of our 2019 fundraising totals. The UDFB is counting on us for this critical support! Come on Montlake, let’s not let them down!