Gobble Wobble 5K: Girl's idea to give back becomes annual Thanksgiving tradition

An 11-year-old from Safety Harbor has spent the last three years raising more than $1,000 and providing meals for those in need. It started as a school project for then-third grader Maddy Jones.

"We had to make a "difference maker" project, which is, how are you changing the community? I was thinking that not as many people get as much food as they should," Jones said. "We decided that we could do a 5K to help people, and from there it just grew a lot."

Jones hosted her first "Gobble Wobble 5K Run" in 2016, and collected more than 120 canned items to donate to the Mattie Williams Center. The organization feeds hungry parents and children from hundreds of area households. 

It was so successful, Jones wanted to host a second one in 2017, where she collected 250 items. Then 2018, where she collected 1,374 items and, for the first time, raised $1,148. 

This Thanksgiving will be the fourth annual. 

"Families can come together and run or walk with their pets and friends," she said. 

Her dad, Trent Jones, couldn't be more proud.

"Just coming up with that as a third-grader and just recognized there are local hungry and what can we do to help. I'm just proud of her, what she's done and what it’s come to be," he said.

And regardless of what participants donate, she's happiest seeing the community come together. 

"Seeing all of the bright faces there are on Thanksgiving and how thankful they are is my favorite part," she said. 

Maddy Jones

The Gobble Wobble will run Thursday, Nov. 28 from 8 to 10:30 a.m. It starts at Veteran's Memorial Park in Safety Harbor. While not required, participants are encouraged to bring at least one canned good to donate to the Mattie Williams Center.