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Strolling for More Than Just Strawberries

Local kids in need will benefit from the Strawberry Stroll 5k this Saturday in Norcross.

Choosing local businesses is more than just getting fruit from the neighborhood farmer and buying clothing from a boutique around the corner; it's about helping local charities, too.

Kris Rodgers of had that track of mind when deciding on what local nonprofit to benefit when organizing last year's 5k in the Strawberry Stroll, an annual festival in the city of Norcross that celebrates the in-season fruit at the end of May.

Rodgers and two others from the company picked Kingdom Kids, a nonprofit formed in Norcross that helps local children and families battling anything from leukemia to physical abuse. Similar to the Make A Wish Foundation, Kingdom Kids grants wishes as big as a trip to Disney World to as small as gas cards.

"I went to one of their golfing events and thought, 'This is great,'" said Rodgers, who's the marketing specialist for the RTS division in Norcross.

Rodgers, along with RockTenn employees Heather Richmond and Jennifer Rombardo, planned the first 5k in 2011. With Rodgers as the leader-type, Richmond was in charge of recruiting volunteers and Rombardo organized the donations side.

More than 150 runners signed up for last year's run, and they were able to raise about $8,000.

With the funds, the RockTenn group helped sponsor a vacation for a local family whose child . Additionally, leftover funds went to assisting children going to Camp Sunshine in Decatur.

"The demand is definitely out there right now," said Kingdom Kids Co-Founder Justin Hutchinson, who has not turned down a wish yet. "We're lucky to have folks like RockTenn and Norcross events and several other events that were put on for us."

This year, Rodgers and his team aims to double the runners and funds raised, and Kingdom Kids plans to fulfill at least three wishes for local children.

Additionally, Kingdom Kids has planned a line of activities post-race alongside the strawberry sale. With all proceeds going to fulfilling wishes, the events include a pie-eating contest, a bake-off contest, crazy hair stations, bounce houses and face painting.

The Strawberry Stroll 5k is welcome to all ages and to all walkers and runners. Strollers and dogs are also allowed in the race, too, which begins in .

The 5k will start at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 26, with events to follow through 12:30 p.m. The race costs $25, and tickets can be purchased the day of and before the race at the Strawberry Stroll 5k page at active.com.

RockTenn also is looking for volunteers to help for the run. Contact Heather Richmond at hrichmond@rocktenn.com for more details.

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