Special Blog Post by Diane Tye Zapata, Director of Volunteer Services

“Mission: Possible” focuses on our volunteers, without whom our mission of creating a hunger-free community would be impossible! 

Diane Zapata, Second Harvest Director of Volunteer Services (left) at the 2017 Turkey Trot

In the wee hours every Thanksgiving morning, Second Harvest volunteers gather in the darkness behind SAP Center to support the Applied Materials Silicon Valley Turkey Trot. Since its inception in 2005, the race has grown in popularity every year and is now the largest Thanksgiving Day race in the country!

The proceeds from the race allow Second Harvest to provide many additional pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables to our community – an additional 2.9 million pounds last year. That is a huge impact!

However, the largest impact is from the volunteers who make this all possible. Did you know that we had the support of over 2,000 volunteers to support this event? Volunteers provided customer service at the EXPO ahead of the race, handing out shirts and bibs to racers at the Sports Basement in Sunnyvale. On the morning of the race, volunteers came in waves starting at 4:30am up to 7am depending on the assignment. Popular assignments included checking in other volunteers for their assignments, helping out in the Kid’s Fun Zone and supporting the Kid’s Fun Run and many other options to support the runners during and after the race.

The “behind the scenes” look at what it takes to get that many volunteers off safely and on time to the assignments is a fun type of controlled chaos. Repeat volunteers expect the bullhorn to announce groups over the noise of enthusiasm. All volunteers are treated to some informal entertainment by “Hans the Chicken Man” – a longtime volunteer leader from sponsor VMWare.  He’s locally world famous for his jokes and his “gobble gobble” call over the bullhorn. Volunteers work hard, and they make it fun!

The alarm clock rings way too early, and it’s hard to get moving with a chill in the air. But once you get to the race and put on a comfy Turkey Trot Volunteer hoodie, warm up with some hot chocolate or coffee, and get inspired by so many fun and dedicated volunteers – you end up having a great time. What a wonderful event, and we at Second Harvest are so thankful for the support of the many volunteers. Volunteers really do make it happen!