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Third annual 5K benefits the homeless

Photo by Tori Boone

Photo by Tori Boone

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Braving sub-40 degree weather, the season's inaugural frost still fresh on the ground, a few hundred driven souls gathered at Tribble Mill Park for a good cause Saturday morning.

Benefitting the Lawrenceville Salvation Army, the third annual Run for Shelter 5K lured plenty of runners in with hot chocolate, coffee and the promise of helping those in need.

"Last year we hit $10,000 raised, and this year hopefully we'll do the same," said Dacula resident Janet Russell, the mastermind behind the event. "It's for the community to come out, and I just love it."

In 2009, funds raised from the 5K went to help a family "from their car and into a furnished apartment to celebrate Christmas," Russell said. Working in coalition with the Salvation Army's "Home Sweet Home" program, proceeds help families facing hardships in the current economy.

"They do incredible work with the program," Russell said. "They give each family a case worker, they give them financial counseling, spiritual encouragement, they just do wonderful work. They get employment, they're back in society and it's a great program."

Kelly Barfield of Stone Mountain participated in the Run for Shelter last year. She was back Saturday, this time bringing along two more generations, as her daughter and mother took part in the event's Fun Run.

"Just the fact that it helps Gwinnett County where we live, it was just great to be able to help with that," she said. "It's just fun to come help our local cause and help others."

Athletes of all shapes, sizes and training came out for a lap around the lake Saturday, with roughly 200 participants. Bundled in jackets, scarves and otherwise semi-appropriate running gear, most stuck around after the race for raffles and barbecue at Tribble Mill's Holly Pavilion, despite the weather.

"This is the coldest one. Definitely," Russell said. "At 7 a.m., it was bad. But this is just so great."