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Newark Advocate
Nov 25, 2013

Perfect fit for a giving family
Warners commit to lead sponsorship of big fundraising event

By Evelyn Frolking
Contributing Writer

Some say the Thanksgiving holiday has become lost in the rush to Christmas, but one local family holds fast to the true meaning of this American holiday.

Kaleigh, 11, Anna Bell, 8, and Elijah Warner, 7, along with their parents, Sabrina and Jake Warner, of Loudon Street, set a goal a year ago to make a difference in the lives of those who don’t enjoy a good meal every day. Until just recently, this project was their big secret.

Together, this family, who owns Jake’s Property Services, made a commitment to direct the giving funds they make a habit of saving each year toward a lead sponsorship of the Turkey Trot, a 5K run/ walk event held on the morning of Thanksgiving.
The Turkey Trot draws more than 2,000 people to the streets of Granville and last year, as the largest single-day fundraiser in the county, raised more than $46,000 for the local Licking County Food Pantry.

The family sat down and made a pact. Each Warner child pledged to save and contribute from allowance earnings. During the course of the year, each saved $400 for a cumulative total of $1,200. The family business and the Warner’s personal savings set aside for giving contributed the rest.

Together, the family saved and gave $5,000 to make their goal of becoming a lead sponsor of the annual event.

“The Warner family took me completely by surprise,” said Bruce Westall, an event coordinator and a founding member of the Turkey Trot, who said this year’s fundraising goal is $65,000, considerably more than the $46,000 raised last year. “I knew that they and their company, Jake’s Property Services, were very active in the community; however, they made a year-long pledge to single out the Turkey Trot for their generosity.”

For this family, it works like this: Each of the Warner children receives an allowance for work they do in their home-school setting, and for chores they do in the house and on their Louden Crest Farm. They live alongside their grandparents, Bob and Deb Warner, who instilled in their own children, including their son, Jake, a tradition of giving.

Bob Warner is well known in the area for his maple sugar business operating from the farm the family has owned since 1877. Each year, he turns sap tapped by the Kiwanis from local Sugar Maple trees to make syrup as a fundraiser for the local group. And Jake founded his business while still in high school.

Every week, the Warner children direct their allowance to one of three purposes agreed upon by the family, their mother Sabrina, said. “One week it goes into their savings account, the next it goes into their giving account, and the third is their spending money.”

“We wanted to give at least $5,000 as a family,” Sabrina said. “We wanted to make that our goal over the year, but we decided to keep it secret to make sure we could do it.”
A large poster board chart hand-drawn with turkeys and pumpkins became the goal chart and each week they colored it in as “turkey” grew.

“I would get behind them,” she smiled and said in her role as motivator mom.
 Sabrina initially got the idea after becoming acquainted with Westall, who many will say is the heart and soul of Granville’s popular turkey-day event.

"I really had no clue about the level of food need until I became a member of AmSpirit (a national networking group with a Granville chapter) and realized what Bruce has done with the Turkey Trot. It touched my heart,” she said.

“If I had anything to do with that commitment, then it makes all those volunteer hours worthwhile,” Westall said.

Westall and fellow Am- Spirit members support each other in many ways. This year,15 AmSpiritmembers are on the event sponsorship or volunteer roles, a really strong showing, said Katy Paumier, president of the chapter and owner of PMMG Medical Management. Others are supporting by participating in the event.

“Katy took on the task of finding corporate sponsors for this year’s Turkey Trot,” Westall said. “Her initial solicitation was a letter to area businesses asking for their support. So when Sabrina replied that, yes, she and her family had been saving all year for this contribution, both Katy and I were taken aback. The Warners’ contribution is a unique gesture for a small home-based business.”

“Really, in our lifewetalk about giving to help others less fortunate than us,” Sabrina said. “We have taught the kids to not necessarily do this in secret like we did this time because of the level of the gift, and we have a lot of things we are partial to, but it’s funny, though, how things happen. Every time we go somewhere where there is a donation box, the kids remind us to drop our change in,” she laughed.

Next year, they will take up another worthy cause, Sabrina, said. “The kids are talking about adopting a family.”

And serving Thanksgiving dinner at a shelter is definitely on Sabrina’s list. “We can’t serve dinner to the needy right now, the kids are too young. So this year’s effort is a way for us to bless financially.”

“But eventually,” she said, “we want to get right into the middle of it.”