Hundreds expected to race in South Lakes HS food pantry’s annual 0.5K fundraiser

The South Lakes High School PTSA Food Pantry’s annual “Do It Your Way 0.5K” fundraiser returns this month (photo by Alexis Doty)

The South Lakes High School PTSA’s annual “Do It Your Way 0.5K” fundraiser for its food pantry is back for a fifth year — and yes, there will be doughnuts this time.

Advertised as “the most rewarding 650 steps you’ll take this year,” the yearly walk has become one of Reston’s most popular fall events, drawing over 300 participants in 2021, according to the PTSA.

SLHS PTSA Food Pantry co-founder Roberta Gosling says the group hopes to get over 500 attendees this year.

After going virtual in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the fundraiser returned in-person last year. The 2022 iteration allows walkers to participate either in person at Lake Anne Plaza from 2-4 p.m. on Oct. 16 or “online” by completing the 650 steps at any point during the weekend of Oct. 15-16.

Registration is now open, costing $10 for students, $25 for adults, $60 for families, and $25 per person for teams. A limited number of VIP entries are available for $100, which covers the cost of registration and offers “front row seats to all the action and additional goodies,” according to the webpage.

Race packets will be available at Lake Anne Brew House (11424 Washington Plaza West) from 10 a.m. to noon on Oct. 15 and on the day of the race, starting at noon. For the first 500 people who register, the packet will include a bib, finisher medal and other swag from the fundraiser’s sponsors.

The first 500 registrants will get a race packet filled with cool SWAG including a race bib, finisher medal, and other special goodies provided by event sponsors.

Other highlights include the race’s “famous” mid-point doughnut station, which will be back for the first time in three years. There will also be a live raffle for an $800 custom necklace with the food pantry’s logo donated by sponsor Aspen Jewelry Designs, the PTSA said in a press release.

All proceeds will go toward buying food, toiletries and other critical items for the South Lakes High School food pantry, which distributes those goods to more than 275 families in the South Lakes pyramid each week, according to the PTSA.

Launched in 2017 to address food insecurity among students, the food pantry initially focused on the high school before expanding to the full pyramid after a year. The PTSA says approximately 4,200 students in the pyramid qualify for free or reduced-price lunches, including about 830 high schoolers.

The pantry opens to South Lakes students every Thursday at the end of the school day. More than 140 students came to “shop” during the week of Sept. 23, Gosling said.

The PTSA also conducts curbside distributions to around 125 families in the pyramid, providing food, feminine hygiene products, and a “bonus item,” such as paper towels or laundry detergent. The pantry also mails grocery gift cards to families and delivers grocery bags to Langston Hughes Middle School.

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