runner crossing finish line

In the Community: Going the Extra Mile for a Cause

By Steven Trieber

Thousands of runners shed sweatshirts, jackets, and more at the start of the Boston Marathon each year. Steven Trieber tells how he and several MITRE colleagues were at the ready this spring to help channel abandoned items into a community resource.

Volunteers at the Boston Marathon

MITRE Boston Marathon volunteers with Boston Athletic Association sign. From left to right: Steven Trieber, Allison Rancourt (Sansone), Michael Dewsnap, and Andrew West. (Photo courtesy of Steven Trieber.)

MITRE employees take our mission of solving problems for a safer world to heart—and to their communities. Our "In the Community" series highlights the many ways our people make a difference in neighborhoods across the country and around the globe. Select stories feature employees lending their time, talent, and heart to the causes they care about. Steven Trieber and his MITRE colleagues went the extra mile during this year’s Boston Marathon to support Big Brothers Big Sisters’ mentoring programs.

There are some brightly colored Boston Marathon jackets on our Bedford, Massachusetts campus this spring. The wearers volunteered and represented MITRE at one of the nation’s most venerated races and the world’s oldest annual marathon—and helped do a good turn for children in need.

I started volunteering at the marathon in 2012, collecting clothing shed by runners on their way from the Athletes’ Village to the Hopkinton start line. This year, the MITRE team—which also included my colleagues Michael Dewsnap, Allison Rancourt, and Andrew West—joined me and 70 other volunteers on what is known as “Judy’s Crew.” It’s named for Judy Pitasi, a longtime marathon volunteer who founded the Boston Athletic Association’s official clothing collection program.

On marathon day, Judy’s Crew gathers hundreds of sweatshirts, sweatpants, jackets, sneakers, blankets, gloves, even yoga mats that runners discard at the start of the race. All of it is then donated to charity.

Giving the Sweatshirts Off Their Backs

The excess clothing is thanks to the weather. Marathon participants arrive at 5:30 in the morning when it’s cold and they need to keep their muscles warm. On their way to the start line, they peel off extra layers to be lightweight and stay cool during the race. Many runners intentionally wear new items for pre-race conditions because they know the clothing will go to a great cause.

Before the roads close at 6:30 a.m. in Hopkinton, volunteers check in and are assigned to teams and collection locations along the 0.8-mile span between the village and start line. Clear bags for clothing and black bags for trash are set up along the route.

When the runners leave the Athletes’ Village to move toward the starting corrals, volunteers serve as ambassador greeters, clothing collectors, and directors.

Clothing left behind by the athletes is collected, bagged, and loaded onto Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Massachusetts box trucks. The trucks go to a warehouse, where items are separated and cleaned. The Big Brother Big Sister Foundation [BBBSF] sells the clothing by the pound to thrift stores, consignment shops, and bulk buyers. The foundation distributes 100 percent of the proceeds to mentoring programs supporting more than 20,000 “Littles” and “Bigs” across Massachusetts.

This year, Judy’s Crew collected over 42,000 pounds—21 tons—of clothing from more than 30,000 runners! Even a brand-new leather biker jacket made it into the mix. The funds raised from the Boston Marathon clothing cover a full year of the cost to train and match 20 mentors with children in need.

As they write on their website, “BBBSF turns gently used goods into treasure. And what greater treasure exists than the future of a child?”