Proceeds from Tan’s Treats ‘Ugly Sweater 5K’ run to provide more than 34,000 meals to children

ST. GEORGE — Tan’s Treats held its “Hungry Hustle Ugly Sweater 5k Run” Saturday, the proceeds of which will provide more than 34,000 meals to over 600 Washington County elementary school children to ensure they have enough to eat on weekends when school lunch programs are not available.

Hundreds gather for Tan’s Treats “Hungry Hustle Ugly Sweater 5K Run” held Saturday at the Crosby Family Confluence Park, St. George, Utah, Dec. 2, 2017 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

“We’ve had two Hungry Hustle 5K runs so far, and this year the turnout was awesome,” Diane Holt of Tan’s Treats said.

More than 200 attended the lively event that featured fun activities for the children, an array of ugly sweaters, tinsel, Christmas trees, snowballs, candy canes, a selfie with Santa and even a pancake breakfast made to order.

Rob Goulding, hard at work behind the griddle, said he made “about 100 pancakes in all.”

A trio won first place in the “Ugly Sweater” contest. Winners Tyler Stull, Tasha Higley and Kerri Higley were chosen for their gaudy costumes. The Higleys’ costumes were actually first created a few years ago.

“We keep adding to them (every year),” Kerri Higley said.

Children visiting Santa at Tan’s Treats “Hungry Hustle Ugly Sweater 5K Run” held Saturday at the Crosby Family Confluence Park, St. George, Utah, Dec. 2, 2017 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

The affair was a first for Stull, who started from scratch to embellish his costume with a medley of ornaments, ribbons and trimmings.

The event’s success was illustrated by an announcement made by Zach Holt of Tan’s Treats, when he reported over a loudspeaker that the proceeds collected from the day’s festivities would provide 34,761 meals.

“We’ve had incredible support from the community and our sponsors who help us provide thousands of meals to these kids,” Zach Holt said, adding that more than 75 percent of the program is funded through individual donations from the community, and the rest is covered by business sponsors.

Nine-year-old Sienna Goulding, who also volunteers her time packing the weekend bags for the school children, placed second in the women’s category.

Tan’s Treats

Tan’s Treats, a family-run operation staffed by volunteers and led by one remarkable family, provides 20,000 meals each month to Washington County school children who may otherwise go hungry. The meals help children obtain the nutrition they need during the weekend when school lunch programs are not available, allowing the kids to arrive at school ready to learn and develop properly.

Winners are announced during Tan’s Treats “Hungry Hustle Ugly Sweater 5K Run” held Saturday at the Crosby Family Confluence Park, St. George, Utah, Dec. 2, 2017 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

More than 600,000 meals are collected, bagged and delivered to participating schools each year, a process made possible by the efforts of numerous volunteers, donations and “a wonderful community,” Diane Holt said.

The birth of the program began in the 90s when Tanner Holt, Diane Holt’s son, was an elementary student. Tanner Holt would give his lunch away to a fellow student who had nothing to eat and return home hungry every day. Once his mother found out, she started making two lunches for him to take to school so that both boys could eat.

In 2012 a tragic accident took the life of Tanner Holt. The Tan’s Treats program is a way to “carry on his name and the kind of person he was – very service oriented,” Zach Holt said.

The family decided to honor Tanner Holt’s legacy by providing the weekend bags of meals and snacks to children to “make sure they had something to eat so they wouldn’t go hungry when they are not in school,” Zach Holt said.

One participant ran wearing a picture of Tanner Holt, (taken when he was a young child featured on the left of the photo) during Tan’s Treats “Hungry Hustle Ugly Sweater 5K Run” held Saturday at the Crosby Family Confluence Park, St. George, Utah, Dec. 2, 2017 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

The local nonprofit organization packs a weekend bag of food consisting of three meals and one snack for both Saturday and Sunday. The bags are delivered to schools where staff give them to children who have opted into the program.

The program also provides family meal bags that include items to be prepared for the family during school breaks, such as Christmas or spring vacations, a big undertaking that takes a great deal of time, money and food.

Processing more than 9,000 meals and 1,200 snacks in family bags delivered to the schools for the Thanksgiving break demonstrated the magnitude of the operation – efforts that will double in less than three weeks when more than 18,000 meals and 2,400 snacks are bagged and delivered in order to provide enough food for 617 children and their families for the 10-day Christmas break.

The effort takes place in a nondescript building on River Road, headed by one extraordinary family made possible thanks to a “giving and generous community,” Zach Holt said.

Items still needed for the food drive include nonperishable items in easy-to-open packaging that are individually wrapped and easy enough for kids to make themselves, including instant oatmeal packets, fruit cups, cans of Vienna sausage or tuna and ramen noodles, to name a few.

In Utah, more than 89,000 children don’t have enough to eat, which is 20 percent of the 440,000 children residing in homes across the state. Nationally, there are more than 15 million children under the age of 18 living without consistent access to food.

Anyone interested in donating food items, volunteering or sponsoring a child can visit Tan’s Treats’ website or Facebook page.

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Email: cblowers@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

 

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