Tag: San Antonio Food Bank

Rackspace’s Thanksgiving Day Food Drive Helps Needy Families

Reporter with Silicon Hills News

Rackspace's Lawrence "SugarBear" Reyes and his infant daughter greet the crowd at Rackspace's Thanksgiving Day Food Distribution event.

Rackspace’s Lawrence “SugarBear” Reyes and his infant daughter greet the crowd at Rackspace’s Thanksgiving Day Food Distribution event.

A voucher for a free turkey and a box of food items from Rackspace came as a surprise to Robin Dysart.

Crestview Elementary School sent the voucher home with her daughter.

“It means the world to us, we’ve been having some difficulties for the last few years,” Dysart said Saturday. Her car overheated while she waited in the line to pick up the donated food. So she parked the car and walked up to the Rackspace headquarters with her daughters to get their Thanksgiving Day dinner. Two Rackspace employees, Rackers as they are known, carried the boxes to her car. They posed for pictures with the girls and gave Dysart hugs.

Dysart, who has a college education, hasn’t been able to find work for the past few years. She’s battling to hold on to her house and take care of her daughters, ages, 5 and 8, and a 12-year-old son.

“It really does mean a lot, we’re so grateful and everybody here is so friendly, it’s a really heartwarming thing that they are doing,” Dysart said.

Rackspace partnered with the San Antonio Food Bank in its eighth annual Fill a Box, Feed a Family Thanksgiving Food Drive. This year, Rackspace gave away 2,500 turkeys and 2,500 boxes of food, double its goal from last year. It’s the largest food distribution event in San Antonio, said Erika Borrego, chief operating officer with the San Antonio Food Bank.

“This is a low income area so there are a lot of families in need here,” Borrego said.

The cars began lining up at 5 a.m. Saturday morning at Rackspace’s headquarters, known as the Castle, on Walzem road in Windcrest. And Rackspace began distributing the food boxes at 8 a.m. By noon, the organizers had received almost 1,200 vouchers.

Allie Howard with Rackspace, wearing a turkey hat, and getting into the spirit of the Thanksgiving Day Food Drive

Allie Howard with Rackspace, wearing a turkey hat, and getting into the spirit of the Thanksgiving Day Food Drive

More than 100 Rackers worked volunteer shifts on Saturday to hand out the boxes. Despite the rain, the event seemed a festive one with a D.J. spinning tunes, some of the volunteers dancing and entire families helping to hand out the boxes. Some Rackers even had babies strapped to their backs.

“It’s great to see Rackers show up to serve their community,” said Melissa Gray, Rackspace’s senior director of corporate responsibility. “It’s about team work today.”

The San Antonio Food Bank’s goal for November is to raise 1 million pounds of food and Rackspace estimated it gave away about 90,000 pounds of food on Saturday, Gray said.

“This is the biggest volunteer event we do every year at Rackspace,” she said.

The entire family volunteers to help out at the Rackspace Thanksgiving Day event

The entire family volunteers to help out at the Rackspace Thanksgiving Day event

Lots of friends and families volunteered to help out.

Lawrence “SugarBear” Reyes, Rackspace’s ambassador of culture, wore a head to toe turkey suit. And his infant daughter also donned a turkey costume. They greeted and entertained the crowd as the line of cars waited.

Many children in the community surrounding Rackspace don’t get enough to eat on a daily basis. Some local schools have 90 percent or more of their students qualifying for free or reduced lunch program. Rackspace identified the families who received the vouchers through the school system.

Karen Kohler, family specialist with the Camelot Elementary School in the North East Independent School District volunteered at the event Saturday.

“This is amazing because so many of our families really struggle with having enough money to make ends meet,” Kohler said. “And so especially with having the holidays and having a bigger meal these families want to provide it for their families, but it’s expensive. These families are so excited and grateful and appreciative.”

During the long holidays, the kids are used to coming to school for a free breakfast and lunch, so it is difficult for families to provide them with those meals during school breaks, Kohler said.

“They’ll make this last a long time,” Kohler said. “They’ll use ever bit of that turkey.”

This year, Rackspace gave Camelot Elementary 260 vouchers for its 500 students in the school so just about every family that needed one got one, Kohler said.

“We’re so grateful to Rackspace and San Antonio for doing this for our community,” Kohler said.

The Thanksgiving Food drive is part of Rackspace’s Rack Gives Back effort to support the local community and ensure that every family in the neighborhood is able to celebrate the holiday, said Allie Howard, spokeswoman with Rackspace. She wore a turkey hat for the occasion.

About 350 cars per hour visited Rackspace during the food distribution event, which ran until about 3 p.m., Howard said. Rackspace also provided free taxi rides to neighborhood families that walked to the event. So they could get their boxes home safely and easily. It’s a huge logistics undertaking with three semi-trailer trucks filled with food. Forklift operators delivering pallets to the distribution stations and dozens of Rackers, donning rain ponchos, directing the flow of traffic and checking for vouchers.

“Asking for help this time of year is not the most fun thing to do, it’s humbling, Howard said. “But the people that come to our events they feel like it’s more of a party and a celebration. It’s just a very positive experience.”

Rackspace Video posted below by Dave Sims

Rackspace Gives Back at 6th Annual Thanksgiving Food Drive

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.”

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