LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Over the past 15 years, Harvest United Methodist Church has partnered with Sarasota's All Faiths Food Bank to deliver holiday meals to the needy through a 5K race, the Harvest Hustle.
Last year, $9,400 was raised. This year, organizers are hoping to hit over $10,000.
"If $10,000 is raised, the 5K can help us provide more than 500 families with holiday meals," said Laura Coyle, director of marketing for All Faiths.
Nearly 400 participants have registered for the race, which is set for 8 a.m. Saturday at the church, 14305 Covenant Way.
Fees are $25 in advance; $30 on race day. A family registration special is available for $60, which covers two parents and their children.
New this year is computer chip timing instead of the old school paper method used in years past.
"The bit chip technology will improve the accuracy of the results," said Mike Kennedy, director of discipleship at the church. "We know that's an appealing feature to more serious 5K runners."
When the 5K is over, runners can enjoy food and beverage provided by First Watch. There will be a DJ and an awards ceremony, including an accolade for the Fastest Jogging Stroller.
"We're grateful for the opportunity to raise funds right before Thanksgiving," Kennedy said.
All the money raised will go to All Faiths' cause. Participants and spectators are also encouraged to bring non-perishable food items for collection.
"Because we purchase food at wholesale prices, we can get up to eight meals for every dollar donated," Coyle said.
This Thanksgiving, All Faiths will hand out 8,500 turkeys to families in Sarasota and DeSoto counties. The money raised from the Harvest Hustle will replenish the food bank's budget for meals around Christmas.
"The goal of ours is to make sure people get that holiday meal because they're hungry year round and it's hard to think about a family not having food over the holidays," Coyle said.
To register, visit www.harvesthustle5k.com.