The Grinch came to Smithfield last week to provide toys, not steal them.
The Smithfield Parks and Recreation Department held its second Grinch Stink Stank Stunk Toy Run Dec. 7. To join the 5k race or one-mile jingle bell jog/walk, participants had to bring a toy to donate. The runners and walkers could win prizes for best Christmas costume; so could their pets.
The event has two beneficiaries. One is the Johnston County Department of Social Services, which provides Christmas gifts for kids in foster care and for the children of teen moms. The other is Harbor Inc., which shelters women and children from domestic violence.
“It’s fun; it gets you in the holiday spirit,” said Sarah Bedore of Willow Spring, who ran in the race with fellow teachers. She said the race was also an exciting way to meet new people.
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The event started at 10 a.m., just after the rain ended. Runners, walkers and joggers had to dodge puddles, and many crossed the finish line in wet shoes.
Tina Corbett is deputy director of the Department of Social Services and will become director when Earl Marett retires at year’s end. She and her family came in elaborate Grinch and Whoville costumes
Corbett said it was great to see so many people come out in support of the angel tree program, and she thanked those who put the event together. “To just see all of those gifts for all those kids, it’s amazing,” she said.
The Grinch walked around during the event, high-fiving and encouraging runners. Around 200 people took part, donating 300 toys. This year, all of toys went to Harbor House, which is helping about 100 families this Christmas. Parks and Recreation doles out the toys according to need, and last year, Social Services had the greater need.
David Musgrave of Smithfield came with his daughter to enjoy some family time. He liked the run for its “comradeship, seeing a lot of people you don’t get to see a lot.”
“It’s just a good time,” he added.
Musgrave couldn’t name a favorite costume but said he especially liked the dogs.
Stephanie Torres of Smithfield came with her 11-year-old daughter, who was running her first 5k. “I enjoy running, and I enjoy especially doing charity runs, runs where the proceeds go to help people in need, especially in my community,” Torres said.
Torres said the event is fun and festive. “I think it gets people out here who may have never really thought they could run before,” she said. “It kind of just brings them in and lets them get started, maybe, on something that’s a healthy activity but also a very giving activity.”
Torres is also a teacher in the county. “I know how a lot of students often are in need, and many of the toys that are being donated today will probably go to help people that I know in my community,” she said. “It’s a good thing. It’s a blessing for this community.”