Marathon runners. Photo by Tom Trevino.
Marathon runners. Photo by Tom Trevino.

Thanksgiving Week is here, and many San Antonians are looking for ways to help the less fortunate before they sit down to a big holiday meal with their own families.

A San Antonio holiday tradition is the Raul Jimenez Thanksgiving Dinner, which began in 1979 when restaurant owner and businessman Raul Jimenez recognized that many senior citizens were living alone and couldn’t afford to prepare a holiday meal for themselves.

Raul Jimenez Dinner - Vintage
A vintage photograph of the Mama Jimenez Restaurant at 307 W. Central. Mary Jimenez started the annual event with her husband in 1979. Photo courtesy of Raul Jimenez Dinner website. Credit: Courtesy / Jimenez Family

More than 24,000 seniors and needy citizens from San Antonio will join a “community dinner table” at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in downtown San Antonio this Thursday.

Now in its 35th year, the dinner continues to provide senior citizens and less fortunate people a place to enjoy a hot and nutritious turkey dinner with all the trimmings on Thanksgiving Day.

The dinner provides an astounding 25,000 meals for senior citizens and needy families, an effort that demands about 9,400 pounds of turkey, 6,250 pounds of stuffing, 6,250 pounds of green beans, 650 pounds of gravy, 25,000 dinner rolls, and 3,000 pies.

It’s also a chance for many young people to volunteer in San Antonio. More than 4,000 people sign up to help at the event each year, with Volunteer Committee Members assisting project management with the coordination of transportation, food preparation and service, beverages, decorations, event-day volunteers, entertainment, security, and cleanup.

See photos and learn more about the volunteer work, coordination and sponsorship of the Dinner at its Facebook page.

More than 4,000 people, including many youth, volunteer to work at the annual Raul Jimenez Thanksgiving Dinner held at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center each Thanksgiving. Photo courtesy of Raul Jimenez Dinner website.
More than 4,000 people, including many youth, volunteer to work at the annual Raul Jimenez Thanksgiving Dinner held at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center each Thanksgiving. Photo courtesy of Raul Jimenez Dinner website.

5k Run/Walk Great Turkey Challenge

The San Antonio Food Bank 5K Run/Walk Great Turkey Challenge will challenge runners to a pre-Thanksgiving race to raise money to help fight hunger in the community.

The chip-timed run/walkathon will be held at 8:30 a.m. Thursday morning and will offer something for everyone, whether they’re seeking an enjoyable morning stroll to burn calories, a competitive run, or a chance to exercise with their dog.

The Turkey Challenge is one of the few races permitted to go through the King William neighborhood and along the River Walk. It’s also the perfect way to help close the one million pound goal for the Food 4 SA campaign during November. Every $15 raised helps provide a turkey dinner for a family in need this season.

Race registration is $35 until Nov. 25 and $40 the day of the race. Kids under 12 years old are free. Online registration cuts off at midnight Nov. 25. For more information or to register, visit

Turkey Trot 4-Miler

H-E-B and the San Antonio RoadRunners are holding the 39th Annual Turkey Trot 4-Miler at 8:15 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day. Eighty free smoked turkeys will be given away by drawing from registered four-mile run and walk participants. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the SARR Scholarship Fund.

The race begins at Lifetime Fitness at Tx. 281 and Loop 1604. Check out the website for more information about race registration and the kids run.

Mission to Mission

Another upcoming race, the Mission to Mission Charity Bike Tour, will be held Saturday, Dec. 6. to raise money for 14 local, nonprofit organizations.

Organized by the Mission Trail Rotary Club, this non-competitive bike ride is in its 17th year and often attracts younger riders and women who are interested in cycling and visiting the San Antonio Missions National Historic Park or seeing some of the Southside. The event also helps grow San Antonio’s bike community. It is organized and run by a volunteer staff, and all proceeds go to projects supported by community nonprofits.

About 600 riders will compete this year, raising money for organizations including the Alamo Council of the Blind, said ride director Larry Clark.

Recumbant bicyclists participate in the Mission to Mission Charity Bike Ride. Courtesy photo.
Recumbant bicyclists participate in the Mission to Mission Charity Bike Ride. Courtesy photo.

“This is a 100% local event, staffed 100% by local volunteers, with the local bike clubs helping out,” he said. “The event includes “sag” wagons, and we have bike police officers from 10 Bexar County municipalities who ride with us.”

The event is friendly for kids, parents, beginners, and professional riders, and participants are encouraged to pick up special passports and have them punched at each of the San Antonio Missions to redeem for prizes.

“Our Rotary Club supports the Missions National Park, and we are trying to encourage a lot more visitation there,” Clark said.

Cyclists on the Mission to Mission Charity Bike Tour have the option of a 67-mile/100 kilometer or “metric century” tour at 8:30 a.m., a 55-mile endurance tour at 8:45 a.m., a 28-mile performance tour at 9 a.m., or a 12-mile family tour at 9:30 a.m. The 100-kilometer route for long-distance cyclists is new this year.

Registration begins at 7:30 a.m. at the Mission Park Pavilions at 802 VFW Blvd. with a family oriented ride to the Missions, and longer rides for enthusiasts. $40 pre-registration fee through Nov. 24 includes lunch and a T-shirt, while the on-site fee is $60, or $50 if you deliver five or more cans of food to the San Antonio Food Bank.

For more information or to register online, visit or Ride maps are available. Registration information is also available on for more serious riders.

Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon and Half Marathon

Many runners are familiar with the annual San Antonio Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon and Half-Marathon, a competitive long-distance event to be held Dec. 6-7 to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Team Challenge, which fights Crohn’s disease and Colitis, Feed the Children, and more.

Martin Acevedo running in the Rock 'N' Roll San Antonio marathon. Courtesy photo.
Martin Acevedo running in the Rock ‘N’ Roll San Antonio marathon. Courtesy photo.

The 10K will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 6, at Cherry Street and Alamo Street near the Alamodome, and finish at Cherry Street near Alamodome lots B&C. The marathon, half-marathon, and two-person half-marathon relay and 5K will begin at 7:30 a.m., beginning at Commerce Street and Cherry Street and finishing at the Alamodome. The 5K will wrap up at the Pearl Brewery.

The marathon and half-marathon course are flat and festive, perfect for runners and walkers of all abilities. There also will be a bike tour at 6:45 a.m. and a wheelchair invitational at 7:25 a.m.

Visit for more information about the race.

Clothing/Coat Drive

The Society of San Vincent de Paul serves families during the holidays with another basic need – clothing.

The organization provides coats at 68 sites in the San Antonio area, as well as hundreds of homeless people at Haven for Hope, many of whom do not have coats to wear over the winter.

Chick-fil-A locations across San Antonio and New Braunfels are launching a Cows for Coats Campaign from Dec. 1-6, providing people an opportunity to drop off clean, gently worn coats for children and adults at any participating location. They will receive a thank you and a gift card or a Chick-fil-A grilled chicken sandwich or eight nuggets. The coats will benefit the SSVPD and other shelters in the area.

People who want to raise money to combat prostate and testicular cancer and get a chance to win some mustache bling while they’re at it should head out to the San Antonio Mustache Dache, beginning at Eilan San Antonio at 8 a.m. Nov. 29.

Mustache Dache

The nation’s premier mustache-themed running series supports the Movember Foundation, the global men’s health charity, by challenging men to grow mustaches during Movember to spark conversation and raise funds for prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and mental health problems. The event is sponsored by Run Wild Sports, which is hosting the pre-race packet pickup. Visit the Mustache Dache webpage at for details.

San Antonio 5K Santa Boogie

It’s hard not to get into the giving spirit of the holidays dressed as Santa Claus. The 2014 San Antonio 5K Santa Boogie gives everyone a chance to run, walk or boogie past the Alamo in a Santa suit to support the Salvation Army and local, nonprofit organizations in San Antonio.

Runners in the 5K San Antonio Santa Boogie dress as Santa Claus and run or walk through downtown, with a new route past the Alamo this year. Photo courtesy of D'Corazon Foundation.
Runners in the 5K San Antonio Santa Boogie dress as Santa Claus and run or walk through downtown to raise money for the Salvation Army and local charities. Photo courtesy of D’Corazon Foundation.

The event starts at 8 a.m. Dec. 6 at VFW Post 76 at 10 10th St. and finishes at the same spot.

Belinda Benavides, director of the D’Corazon Foundation, which runs the event with sponsorship from Sleep Number and Trader Joe’s, said she expects hundreds – hopefully thousands – of Santas will be running through downtown at part of the Boogie.

“I am so thrilled to be a part of this opportunity to raise money to help children in need–with the money raised through the Santa Boogie, we provide funds for families whose houses have burned down, giving out gas cards, helping replace roofs, furniture, and appliances to families in need,” she said.

Registration is $40 with a $365 sign-up fee. Groups of five people or more can receive a $5 discount per registrant. Everyone who registers will receive a Santa suit with shirt, pants, belt, and beard. The suits are one size fits all. Adults will receive a Santa suit, while kids will get an elf half and T-shirt.

Benavides said she also hopes to get San Antonio’s name in the Guinness Book of World Records for the number of running Santas.

For more information, visit the Santa Boogie’s sign-up page or email

*Featured/top image: Marathon runners. Photo by Tom Trevino.

Related stories:

Photo Gallery: Happy Raul Jimenez Thanksgiving 2013

The Raul Jimenez Thanksgiving Dinner, a Community Tradition

Embracing the Homeless to Warm the Soul

Brothers & Sisters, Would You Spare a Coat This Cold Winter Day?

Pastries with a Purpose: Beyond a “Crime of Desperation”

Feeding San Antonio’s Hungriest and Homeless

Katherine Nickas was born in San Antonio near Fort Sam Houston but grew up in southern Indiana. In 2007, she began working for Indiana AgriNews where she covered topics ranging from corn and soybean production...