By Taralyn Wiley, Staff Writer—
Thanksgiving marks a time of year when families across the country gather round their dinner tables ready to indulge in coma-inducing foods and deafening laughter, but for the over 600 homeless Chattanoogans, such celebrations are not so easy to come by.
The Grateful Gobbler is a yearly 5K walk on Thanksgiving morning to support the Maclellan Shelter for Families in downtown Chattanooga. 2020 is the 21st anniversary of the fundraiser, and in compliance with social distancing guidelines, the event is going to look a little different. This year’s walk will be virtual, and how, when and where to walk will be up to the participants.
Spokesperson and co-director of the race Stan McCright has been with the organization since 2000 and said that the Chattanooga community is what has made the Grateful Gobbler what it is today.
“We are grateful,” he said. “We organize it, but the community runs it.”
They hope that the walk will be a way of showing the younger generation the appeal of helping their fellow Chattanoogans.
“Raising money and making a difference in the community can be fun,” McCright said.
The Grateful Gobbler has grown remarkably over the last two decades. It can now support an entire shelter thanks to the 5,000 walkers yearly, raising over $200,000 last year alone. The Maclellan shelter is essential because they do not believe in separating families. In the typical state-funded shelter, children ten years or older of the opposite sex are separated from their parents and put into a gender-specific shelter.
The shelter is a part of the Chattanooga Community Kitchen. It provides families with food, a place to stay and counselors to help with employment, credit recovery, and future housing to become a sustainable family unit.
There is a $30 registration fee for the run, and participants will receive a T-shirt that can be mailed to them. Registration packets can also be picked up at the First Tennessee Pavilion located at 1826 Reggie White Blvd. on Saturday, Nov. 21 or Wednesday, Nov. 25 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Fans and participants can support the organization by buying one of their many kooky Thanksgiving themed hats or Grateful Gobbler face masks. Racing costumes can be shown off on social media using the hashtag #gratefulgobbler. Direct donations can also be made on their website. 100% of proceeds and fees will go to support Maclellan.