ONE SPECIAL DE­LIV­ERY

Teen’s project to feed fam­i­lies high­lighted by GoFundMe

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Joseph Phe­lan jPhe­lan@dig­i­tal­first­media.com

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. » Years ago, TJ Tracy be­gan ef­forts to en­sure lo­cal fam­i­lies had din­ner dur­ing the hol­i­day sea­son as a 9-year-old boy. Now, GoFundMe has rec­og­nized the Saratoga Springs na­tive’s on­go­ing ini­tia­tive, nam­ing him a Kid Hero, which means his fundraiser will be high­lighted by the crowd­fund­ing web­site.

TJ’s mom Bev­erly Tracy re­ceived the e-mail be­low from Ni­cole at GoFundMe:

“We ab­so­lutely love TJ’s cam­paign, to raise funds to make the hol­i­days special for those in need. It’s in­spir­ing to see chil­dren who are mak­ing a pos­i­tive dif­fer­ence in the world, and the par­ents who help them do it. This hol­i­day sea­son, GoFundMe is fea­tur­ing kid he­roes like yours, and we’d love for TJ to take part. Cam­paigns that take part in GoFundMe Kid He­roes will be fea­tured on a special home­page, will be el­i­gi­ble for ex­cit­ing do­na­tion give­aways, and, we’ll be fea­tur­ing Kid He­roes cam­paigns on our so­cial me­dia feeds daily.”

It all be­gan with a con­ver­sa­tion with his mother about fam­i­lies in need. In 2009, TJ helped raise more than $200. From there, it has grown into some­thing TJ can­not be­lieve.

“When I first started when I was nine, I re­ally just wanted to make a dif­fer­ence, I wanted to help out those in need,” Tracy said. “The first year it felt great to give back to those fam­i­lies and to give back to the com­mu­nity and to help oth­ers, and ev­ery sin­gle year my mom would

“I just want kids to know that just be­cause you’re a kid doesn’t mean you can’t do what you’re pas­sion­ate about and make a dif­fer­ence in the world.” — TJ Tracy

al­ways ask me, ‘so TJ want to do this again this year,’ and I was al­ways ‘yes, of course, we got to do it again.’ Over the years it has just grown so much and it’s just in­cred­i­ble what it has to turned into. With the gen­eros­ity of the com­mu­nity and our lo­cal teenage com­mu­nity to be able to help out so much, it’s just in­cred­i­ble what we’ve been able to turn TJ’s Turkeys into. With a chance to in­volve other kids to give back to their com­mu­nity.”

It’s evolved into a teenage com­mu­nity ser­vice or­ga­ni­za­tion that meets reg­u­larly. Dozens of Saratoga Springs stu­dents de­liv­ered Thanks­giv­ing meals Mon­day to Franklin Com­mu­nity Cen­ter.

Two fam­ily out­reach co­or­di­na­tors for Project Lift fam­i­lies showed the vol­un­teers where to place the bags filled with Thanks­giv­ing meal items Mon­day af­ter­noon.

“We wouldn’t be able to pro­vide meals for these fam­i­lies with­out their sup­port,” Chloe Wil­liams said. “This is how these fam­i­lies get Thanks­giv­ing meals.”

Franklin Com­mu­nity Cen­ter has 120 fam­i­lies as part of Project Lift which in­cludes all six el­e­men­tary schools in Saratoga Springs.

“We’ve seen TJ’s Turkeys do these for the last few years, and it’s re­ally made a huge im­pact,” said Stephany Deuel. “There’s no way we’d be able to pro­vide all of this for our fam­i­lies with­out them. It’s huge.”

TJ’s Turkeys mis­sion is to pro­vide fam­i­lies in need with sup­port dur­ing Thanks­giv­ing, Christ­mas and through­out the year.

Some of the core mem­bers of TJ’S Turkeys have been TJ’s friends since he was nine, and some have joined along the way.

“It’s great to get more and more kids in­volved,” said Tracy. “This year we’ve started an af­ter school or­ga­ni­za­tion, so that’s got­ten even more kids in­volved.”

Tracy said he’s thrilled and hon­ored to be cho­sen as a kid hero, but re­ally he just thinks that tak­ing care of oth­ers is the right thing to do, in a press re­lease.

“I just want kids to know that just be­cause you’re a kid doesn’t mean you can’t do what you’re pas­sion­ate about and make a dif­fer­ence in the world,” said Tracy.

Since 2009, TJ has raised over $50,000. The goal for this year is $18,000.

JOSEPH PHE­LAN — JPHE­LAN@DIG­I­TAL­FIRST­MEDIA.COM

TJ Tracy came up with TJ’s Turkeys at age nine.

JOSEPH PHE­LAN — JPHE­LAN@DIG­I­TAL­FIRST­MEDIA.COM

TJ’s Turkeys pro­vided meals to give to Project Lift fam­i­lies at Franklin Com­mu­nity Cen­ter Mon­day in Saratoga Springs.

JOSEPH PHE­LAN — JPHE­LAN@DIG­I­TAL­FIRST­MEDIA.COM

One hun­dred-twenty fam­i­lies will be given Thanks­giv­ing meals as part of Project Lift at the Franklin Com­mu­nity Cen­ter in Saratoga Springs.

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