Christmas Box House and DCFS host 5K to help teens in foster care

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Runners pose for a photo at the 2014 Village Run. The Village Run helps to increase awareness of and aid for foster-care teens in Utah. (Utah Department of Child and Family Services)

The Christmas Box House and the Utah Department of Child and Family Services are partnering for their fourth annual Village Run on March 28. They organize the race each year to raise awareness and aid for Utah foster care teens.

A silent auction with various items to bid on will occur after the race. Auction items include a basketball signed by BYU basketball coach Dave Rose and the BYU basketball team. There will also be events for children, including a “Fun Run,” a carnival and an Easter egg hunt.

Registration to the event itself is free, but registration for the race is $20 for anyone who is not in foster care. All registered runners will receive a beanie and a dog tag.

Annual runners, like mother of three Cheryl Cole, have made the Village Run a yearly tradition. “Me and my kids go every year,” Cole said. “My kids have a couple of friends who are in foster care, and it’s really just such a great event. It helps us all realize that we can help out in such a simple way.”

Jeni Roper, who has cerebral palsy, runs the 5K race every year. She is typically surrounded by enthusiasts and friends who show their support during the hour and a half she takes to run it.

The main objective of the Village Run is to increase awareness and to raise funds to help support foster care teens in Utah, with the ultimate purpose of helping them become contributing, beneficial members of society.

The proceeds from the event are shared with the Utah Division of Child and Family Services, Transition to Adult Living and the Christmas Box House. The Utah Division of Child and Family Services uses the funds to provide aid and learning activities to foster care teens. The division hosts a variety of events for the teens, including an etiquette dinner, outdoor “survival days” and other events aimed to help foster children reach normalcy and unity. The division also aids teens preparing to exit the foster care system so they can transition to their own apartments with boxes of supplies.

“This event is so wonderful,” said Nikkita Ulloah, Division of Child and Family Services intern and BYU student. “The idea behind the name is that it takes a village to raise a child, so the division has partnered with Christmas Box House, as well as the community, to really help out the kids in the system find a place in our society.”

The Village Run also receives support and help from Utah Valley University and Utah Foster Care to put on the event. Scout and youth groups are donating candy for the Easter egg hunt, volunteering time and helping collect items for the event’s silent auction.

The event will be held March 28 at Lakeridge Junior High School, 951 S. 400 West, Orem. The 5K race starts at 9:30 a.m.

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