Special Contributor to Silicon Hills News

Rackspace Hosting held its 6th annual Thanksgiving food drive on Saturday at its headquarters in San Antonio.
Cars lined up along both sides of the makeshift food distribution center in Rackspace’s parking lot as the K-Rack DJ created a party atmosphere of re-mixed music. In coordination with the San Antonio Food Bank, Rackspace employees – or Rackers – prepared to distribute a thousand turkeys, as well as tea, coffee, pumpkins, watermelons, and yogurt.
Rackers also distributed 1,270 food boxes containing the rest of the Thanksgiving meal, which they had personally bought for community residents. Some Rackers had even decorated the boxes.
According to Chief Operating Officer Mark Roenigk, maintaining a fun, party-like atmosphere was a key part of the food drive.
“We like to do things that are uplifting,” Roenigk said. “We are trying to make it a fun thing. People should not feel bad that they are coming to get food for their thanksgiving.”

Stan Slimp and “Sugar Bear” dressed as turkeys with DJ Dale Bracey, photograph by Samantha Davis

Two rackers helped keep the party going by dressing up like turkeys and dancing in the front parking lot while greeting members of the community as they drove in. Resident Jana Martinez appreciated the happy mood.
“The music helps it out and everyone is so friendly,” Martinez said. “It makes it not seem like we need the help so much.”
The annual food drive was one of the largest events Rackspace had hosted this year. Fifteen hundred of the companies’ 2,800 employees were involved in the drive. The company spent $10,000 on turkeys and partnered with the San Antonio Food Bank to distribute them, and many other food items, to 1,000 families in the local community. According to Roenigk, sharing success with the community is a big deal at Rackspace.
“Our business model is very successful so we’re very, very blessed and we like to give back to the community,” Roenigk said. “We try to pick the highest impact events to serve the community of San Antonio.”
According to the San Antonio Food Bank, Rackspace’s Thanksgiving distribution event is by far the largest the food bank will do this year. Director of Community Investments Katie Ramsey said the help is sorely needed in the community.
“In November we usually get 90 people per day coming into the food bank and this year we are getting 110 people or more,” Ramsey said. “It’s just an increased need.”
Rackspace and the San Antonio Food Bank worked to meet that need by distributing 1,000 vouchers to residents of the surrounding community. Six hundred vouchers were distributed in cooperation with family specialists in local schools and 400 were distributed with the help of local non profit organizations, churches, and food pantries. Local residents appreciated the much needed support.

A local resident and her daughter happy to receive their meal, photo by Samantha Davis

“I think it’s a great thing that they’re doing here. It helps out a lot of us that can’t get certain things that we need,” Kelly Nevarro said. “It helps out a lot, these little things here, it great for the kids too.”
The food drive also got support from Roosevelt High School. A Roosevelt Junior, Jesse, volunteered to help and also recruited a few other classmates. The Roosevelt students served as Rackspace’s turkey brigade, loading turkey after turkey into the cars that pulled in.

Roosevelt High School students help load food into vehicle, photo by Samantha Davis

“It’s a great feeling inside to know that you can give something to someone who doesn’t have all the resources that you have,” said Roosevelt High School Student Carlos.
The annual Thanksgiving food drive is just one part of the much broader Rack-Gives-Back project, which is the community volunteer arm of Rackspace. In fact, there are three Rackspace employees dedicated solely to community support events. Community Affairs Specialist Cristina Ruiz said Rackspace is scheduled to have at least one major outreach event quarterly and smaller monthly events.
“We don’t just want to be a tenant,” Ruiz said. “We want to be part of the community, be a neighbor, and give back to this area.”