By LAURA LOREK
Reporter with Silicon Hills News
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.
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.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