Community members can help provide healthy food for children by participating in the third annual Westerville Hunger Heroes 5K and 1 mile run/walk.

The event, which encourages participants to dress like their favorite superheroes, begins at 9 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 28, at Westerville North High School's Jim McCann Stadium, 950 County Line Road.

Cost to participate is $10 for students, $25 for adults, and $50 for families of four. T-shirts are included.

Proceeds will go to Share Bac A Pac, a program at the Westerville Area Resource Ministry that provides food on the weekends to school-age students in need; and Otterbein University's Promise House, a student initiative to help university pupils who may be struggling with food insecurity or other financial issues.

For the first time, Otterbein students from Patti Wilson's First Year Seminar course, Discovering and Developing Your Strengths, have been working alongside 25 selected sixth-grade pupils and teacher Anne Bates, from Westerville's Heritage Middle School, on a six-week-long project to learn and apply their individual strengths to organize the event.

"It was a great experience on so many levels," Bates said. "Students learned about their strengths and actually put them into practice by collaborating with the college students to plan the hunger run."

Several students attended the September Mount Carmel St. Ann's 4th Friday event and passed out literature and talked to attendees about hunger issues that many Westerville students face, Bates said. They also presented to the Heritage staff and the district's school board.

"Working with the college students allowed the sixth-graders to find out about the college and career process first-hand," she said.

Although they only met six times for less than one hour, they were able to accomplish quite a bit of work in that short time, Bates said.

"Many of the sixth-graders commented that they wish that they could continue working with the other Otterbein students," she added.

Wilson said all the students are excited to see how the event turns out.

"Personally, I'd like to see the leadership side of it grow," she said. "Anne and I did this as a pilot project."

Wilson said it's all about positive psychology.

"If they know what they're good at and do well, they will use that in relationships and plans for the future," she added. "It has been a great partnership."

Wilson said the Heritage student found their top three strengths.

"What we've done is use those strengths to form committees and teams to work on Hunger Heroes this year," she said. "Those students are on one of our committees. Students decided which fit best with their strengths to put on the event."

Wilson said her college students said they gained an appreciation for being a role model to the Heritage students.

"They said how smart these kids are," she added. "The kids have been very engaging. We learned a lot by doing it. We hope for a successful event Saturday."

The event was created by students at Otterbein and the Westerville Schools Best of Both Worlds program.

As the number of children in need continues to increase and because the Share Bac A Pac program is funded entirely by donations and grants, the Westerville Hunger Heroes 5K and 1 mile run was developed to raise additional awareness and support.

In the past two years, this event raised more than $7,500 to end hunger in Westerville, where 39 percent of school-age children receive free and reduced lunches.

Last year alone, WARM provided more than 5,000 food-filled bags for Westerville children.

This year's race will start and finish in the Westerville North stadium, following the path along North's land lab and the Robert Frost walking/running path.

Most of the course is flat grass or paved.

Course monitors will be positioned to help runners with water and any other needs.

The registration link is here.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla