Faith expo, 5K fundraiser will benefit charity

GREENFIELD – A weekend fundraising run has evolved into an expo for the Hancock County faith community.

As local leaders work to raise money for a nonprofit in need, area churches are also coming together to set up shop during the event and tell residents more about their missions — missions that support that nonprofit that comes to the aid of residents at their lowest point.

Some 60 people have signed up to participate in the inaugural Love Runs Deep 5K.

The race begins at 9 a.m. Saturday when runners will take off down the Pennsy Trail, their registration fees benefiting Love in the Name of Christ (Love INC) of Greater Hancock County, a nonprofit clearinghouse that connects people in need to various community programs.

At the same time, anyone interested in getting involved can stroll through the nearby Hancock County Courthouse Plaza, where booths manned by members of 22 local churches will be set up seeking volunteers to assist in their various missions, said Love INC board treasurer Tom Ferguson.

Karla Whisenand, Love INC’s executive director, said the event started out as a way to boost Love INC’s 2017 budget.

The group’s third-annual Love Thy Neighbor Banquet in February collected a disappointing $3,000 — organizers had expected to bring in more than $13,000 — and Love INC’s leaders took to the drawing board to arrange the 5K in hopes bridging their funding gap.

But as the months went by, and planning continued, Love INC’s budget rebounded thanks to donations from community members. The plans for the 5K evolved in turn, giving Love INC the chance to give back to the churches that have always supported the organization, Whisenand said.

The booths set up in the courthouse plaza will give local churches the opportunity to connect with the community at large. As runners finish the race, as their families mingle waiting for them to cross the finish line, they’ll have a chance to learn more about the work local churches are doing — and sign up to help or attend, too, Whisenand said.

It’s rare to have representatives of so many county churches gathered in one place, and the expo will also provide an opportunity for church representatives to network with each other and see if they can collaborate on common ministries, Whisenand added.

“I think it’s a great opportunity not only for the churches but for those who are searching for a church to attend,” he said.

Love INC’s leaders hope to see 100 runners and walkers talk to the 3.1-mile course; 60 have registered so far.

Drawings will be every 30 minutes to give away gift baskets from local businesses, she said; and you don’t have to be a runner to sign up for the prizes. Singers will entertain the crowd with their music, and families can enjoy a free picnic lunch of hot dogs and hamburgers on the courthouse lawn.

Registration for Saturday’s walk/run 5K begins at 8 a.m. Saturday with the race start time set for 9 a.m. Church representatives will be on hand until noon Saturday meeting and greeting visitors.

If you go

Love Runs Deep 5K Walk/Run and Church Expo

8 a.m. Registration (walk-ups are welcome)

9 a.m. Saturday, Hancock County Courthouse Plaza, 9 E. Main St., Greenfield

The run and walk will be held on the Pennsy Trail

Cost: $30 before the race or at loveinc-ghc.org.

Following the race, an expo with more than 20 county churches will be held, and God’s Open Arms Ministry will provide free hamburgers and hot dogs.