When I was in high school, I was more concerned about playing the guitar or how my hair looked than what sort of charitable work I could do in my spare time. Not TJ Tracy. The Saratoga Springs High School senior (and honoree on saratoga living’s inaugural “Saratoga 20”) is currently celebrating the 10th anniversary of his charity, TJ’s Turkeys. For a decade, TJ’s grassroots organization, which he founded at the tender age of nine (!), has helped provide local families in need with holiday meals. “I never could’ve imagined what it would turn into and I couldn’t be more excited and proud of what we have become,” says Tracy. “What used to be a couple of elementary school kids going door-to-door has turned into high school seniors with a game plan, who are driven to [change the world].” In fact, this year marks the organization’s second successive year of being run exclusively by teenagers (there’s even a club for the fundraiser at Saratoga High).
Founded in 2009, TJ’s Turkeys has since raised more than $60,000 for local families in need, and it’s determined to hit this year’s lofty goal of $25,000. Not only can Saratogians donate directly to the organization on its GoFundMe page, but they can also attend TJ’s Turkeys Eat & Feed fundraiser at The Brook Tavern on Wednesday, October 24, from 4-10pm. There, guests can enjoy a full Thanksgiving dinner, plus a slice of butternut squash or pumpkin pie—exactly the type of home-cooked-style meal TJ is hoping to bring local families in need this holiday season. Tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for kids, and 50 percent of the proceeds go towards helping local families.
TJ may be preparing for college next year (he’s applying early decision to Brown University, his dream school), but that hasn’t slowed down his entrepreneurial mind in the least. Earlier this year, TJ founded SERV, a startup that runs errands for people who can’t easily get out and do them themselves. He’s also going to continue to run TJ’s Turkeys, even after he’s settled at college. “We are currently brainstorming and working on longer-term fundraising options to help TJ’s Turkeys continue to do what we love,” says Tracy. “Of course, there will be challenges to continuing TJ’s Turkeys once I leave for college, but the TJ’s Turkeys team and I are willing to do what it takes to continue our efforts. Helping others is something I strongly believe in and that has always been my inspiration for TJ’s Turkeys.”