The 12th annual Turkey Can Run 5K was held on Thanksgiving morning, Nov. 26, at the First Baptist Church of Jefferson.

"We ran through beautiful downtown Jefferson's rolling hills benefitting the First Baptist Church of Jefferson's Community Food Bank," volunteer Barbara Gooch stated.

The race is a Peachtree Qualifier and a 1st time 5K for many young runners. 540 runners registered and 422 crossed the finish line.

"We are thankful for our many participants, traffic directors, can movers, church staff, community and church volunteers who got up early on a rainy morning to make this race possible," Gooch said. "We are especially thankful for Keith Ariail, our race coordinator, with the assistance of Runners Fit Braselton. We appreciate the assistance of the Jefferson Police Department and the City of Jefferson Road Department. The rain stopped before race time, the weather was warm and the running conditions were perfect."

Runners from all over the Southeast participated in the race.

"It's a joy to see runners old and young participate," Gooch said. "Many children were pushed in strollers. This is the perfect family walk/run on Thanksgiving day."

The race helps support the Community Food Bank with money from the sponsors and the can goods brought in by the runners. This year, an estimated 8,100 canned goods were donated by the race participants. Other food is purchased with the sponsorship money from the race and donations throughout the year.

"We are proud and thankful for our sponsors," Gooch said.

Volunteers and coordinators operate the food bank Mondays and Wednesdays from 1 p.m to 3 p.m. from local churches in the community and from the First Baptist Church of Jefferson.

"We are so very blessed of their time and commitment," Gooch said.

Merino's Furniture in Jefferson donated a rug which was used to raise funds in a silent bid for the food bank.

Jefferson High School and Jefferson Elementary School held a canned good drive in November with the donations given to the food bank.

A COVID plan was used during the race with the large paved church parking lot used as a gathering area for participants to social distance while waiting for the race. Three sanitizing stations were located on the church campus. Race packets were picked up three nights prior to the race.

"This process went so smoothly that we will do it again next year," Gooch said. "Also, as COVID-guidelines, we provided individually-wrapped snacks, bananas and apples provided by Bell's Food Store instead of homemade goodies from our church ladies."

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