AKRON  Thanks to the nearly 1,800 participants and everyone involved in the fifth annual Selfless Elf 5K to benefit the Akron-Canton Regional Food Bank, less of our neighbors went hungry this holiday season.

The family-friendly race, sponsored by Shearer’s Snacks, Campbell Construction, Community Health Care, Steere Enterprises, 91.3 The Summit and many more, was held Dec. 16 at the Akron-Canton Regional Food Bank. The event raised $80,000 dollars which makes 320,000 meals available for those going hungry.

"(The cause) is dear to my heart because I’m a teacher, and I see it every day with my kids.," said Jen Archer, who had just finished the race.

At 8:00 am, runners and walkers alike took off from the starting line at the food bank to loop around through downtown and finish back where they started. Many participants were dressed in flamboyant holiday garb, adding to the atmosphere of joy and generosity that filled the event.

Many who gathered could be seen wearing the iconic red, green and white elf socks given to all those who signed up for the race.

"Everybody comes out, no matter what the weather," said Fran Yakubik, clad in elf attire. "We’ve had rain, we’ve had snow. It’s a really good cause. It’s fun. It’s inspiring."

Adding still to the holiday spirit, racers were treated to caroling along the 3.1 mile route. Even Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus were in attendance, and racers (or those just there to cheer on) could get their picture taken with the jolly elf couple.

At the conclusion of the race it was time for awards. The "Most Dashing" award went to the best dressed racer and was given a man who ran in a box decorated as a Christmas gift. The "Top VIP Elf" award was given to the participant who raised the most money in pledges. To qualify for the award, a minimum of $250 must have been raised.  After the festive awards, the top males and females in each age group and to the overall fastest male and female racers were recognized.   

Participation and support continue to grow yearly for the young race. As such a festive holiday celebration coupled with a cause everyone can get behind, its success is no surprise.

Many people feel just as Archer does.

"It’s fun because everybody’s festive. I’ll be happy to run it next year."