AUSTIN, TX — The Austin Apartment Association will kick off its 34th annual Doc & Gayle Young Food Drive with a “Gobble Trot” parade this week, officials announced on Monday.

The event is scheduled on Wednesday (Aug. 12) from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. starting at the Association’s office at 8620 Burnett Rd. The volunteer-driven fundraiser will run through mid-November with a goal of raising $25,000 to purchase 100,000 meals for residents in the Association’s 11-county Central Texas jurisdiction, organizers said in an advisory.

The food drive began in 1986 when the Austin Apartment Association’s Community Service committee raised $600 to feed hungry Austinites, officials explained. In recent years, more than 100 member volunteers collected funds, purchased food and hand-delivered collected food packets to its partner organizations, according to event organizers. This year, due to the pandemic, increased community need and social distancing guidelines, the fundraiser will start nearly a month earlier and accept online financial donations only. Donations are welcome — and much needed — and can be contributed at the Austin Apartment Association website.

The kickoff “Gobble Trot” parade will take on a new look as well, officials noted. Socially distanced caravans of cars will drive three separate parade routes through participating apartment communities displaying the donation website address and QR code to minimize physical contact while giving Austin apartment residents the opportunity to contribute again this year, organizers said. Officials added that all caravan parade routes will have 10 cars or fewer and participants, unless alone in their car, will be advised to adhere to local mask guidelines, per state and local orders.

Caravan parade routes cover much of the greater Austin area:

  • Central route, including 18 properties near the Domain and Arboretum.

  • North route, covering 21 properties near Wells Branch and Anderson Mill.

  • South route, encompassing 15 properties near Slaughter, William Cannon Drive and South Lamar Boulevard.

“The need for food is greater than ever,” Emily Blair, executive vice president at Austin Apartment Association, said in a prepared statement. “Every year, the apartment community in Austin comes together to collect food, school supplies and help get the word out to renters about rental assistance, voter registration and community initiatives to allocate resources based on Census data, to name a few. We were afraid we might have to cancel our food drive this year due to the Coronavirus, but the pandemic gave us an opportunity to do what multifamily professionals do best – adjust our approach and find a way to make it work to meet the need. Ultimately, altering the food drive into a literal ‘drive’ for funding actually allowed us to meet the food needs of even more people than in years past.”

Blair said 100 percent of collected donations will be distributed through the Association’s partner organizations to feed families and individuals in the greater Austin area. Partner organizations include:

  • The Housing Authority of the City of Austin (HACA).

  • The Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services Rainbow Room.

  • SAFE Austin.

  • Foundation Communities.

  • And, new in 2020, local Food Banks such as the Central Texas Food Bank.

“For nearly 30 years, AAA has been a valuable partner of HACA,” Leilani Lim-Villegas, senior director of Community Development for the Housing Authority of the City of Austin, said in a prepared statement. “During Thanksgiving, 800 turkey dinners were distributed last year to low-income families at 18 of our public housing and Section 8 properties. This is the once-a-year meal that our residents enjoy and count on. We are pleased that AAA is continuing to step up and finding creative ways to provide the needed resources to our communities amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Although this year may look different, 100% of their generous donation will be distributed through electronic gift cards to ensure that HACA residents can prepare a wonderful family holiday dinner. We congratulate AAA for their consistency in helping build and support our communities by innovative ways such as this food drive.

Since the food drive’s inception more than 30 years ago, Ausgin Apartment Association has raised more than $869,000 in donations. Austin residents have received more than 23,050 Thanksgiving Food Packs from the Doc & Gayle Young Food Drive since 1986. And, food pantries in 10 counties surrounding Travis have received $15,000 in total financial donations. Additional details and donation information can be found by clicking here.

About the Austin Apartment Association

The Austin Apartment Association was founded in 1964 and is composed of more than 1,000 diverse businesses that own, manage and service more than 260,000 rental homes in the Greater Austin Area. Our mission is to advance the expertise and collective community impact of the rental housing industry.

To learn more about the Austin Apartment Association,visit their website by clicking here.

This article originally appeared on the Austin Patch

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