Do you have a bike or like getting around on two wheels? Maybe you enjoy walking downtown Savannah’s beautiful, tree lined streets? Do you feel good "doing good" in the community?
On Saturday, Bike Walk Savannah teams up with Emmaus House for Cranksgiving, a creative, two-wheeled, two-legged opportunity for Savannahians to get together, collect food and necessities, and help community members in need.
Since 2012, Bike Walk Savannah has hosted Cranksgiving, a pedaling and walking event in support of Emmaus House, an interfaith organization feeding Savannah’s hungry each morning Monday through Friday. It works like this: bike riders and pedestrians meet at Bike Walk Savannah’s headquarters at 1301 Lincoln Street, review a list of Emmaus House’s most-needed items, divvy up that list then compete to find and purchase the most goods.
The challenge is carrying everything on bikes or in bags and backpacks. Each person contributes no more than $20, and there are prizes for Best Team Effort, Most Items Collected, Most Grocery Stores Visited, Most Creative Rig, and Best Costume.
"It’s a lot of fun," said Kim Turner, Board Member of Bike Walk Savannah and multi-year participant. "Some of these people I only see once a year when we decorate our bikes and trailers and get the supplies. Of course, it’s for an important cause, raising awareness and helping people in our community who really need food."
With bike trailers, panniers, and backpacks, riders and walkers set out to cross off items from the list. Participants mostly shop in the downtown area at Kroger, Dollar Store, Whole Foods, and Red and White.
Since 1982, Emmaus House at 18 Abercorn St. has been helping Savannah’s homeless get a warm meal, shower, do laundry, and get connected to resources for stable housing. This year because of COVID-19, the organization has had an ongoing need for paper goods in addition to canned and shelf-stable foods.
"We regularly serve hearty breakfasts of meatloaf, mac and cheese, lasagna," said Ariana Berksteiner, Executive Director of Emmaus House. "Good Southern-style cooking to stick to the bones for a while, and since spring it’s all been going out in paper bags."
Emmaus House will also distribute Thanksgiving dinner in to-go bags.
"We anticipate serving at least 250 to-go meals for Thanksgiving," emphasized Berksteiner. "Which is why we have an unprecedented need for paper bags, cutlery, and napkins this years. Things like beans, rice, pasta are great donations, and we always have a need for person hygiene supplies."
Caila Brown, Executive Director of Bike Walk Savannah, has also experienced first-hand COVID-19 bringing people’s livelihoods to a screeching halt, forcing families and individuals to seek alternative transportation solutions.
Since spring, the organization has received requests for over 150 bicycles from a range of community members.
"This ride helps bring to light something we don’t want to think about," said Brown. "How close so many people are in our community to being without food. Cranksgiving raises funds and food, and it raises awareness about food insecurity in Savannah."
For Berksteiner, the event also raises awareness of what it’s like to be houseless and trying to navigate the city by biking or walking.
"So many of our clients only bike or walk, and Cranksgiving is a connection point for understanding what it’s like to have to figure out how to get everything on a bike or in a backpack and travel through Savannah," emphasized Berksteiner. "People who are houseless do this every day, and the event is a little of what it’s like to rely on just a bike or your own two legs."