SPARTA, NJ- Thanksgiving morning in Sparta is not just for stuffing the turkey  and setting the table any more.  For the last seven years, Thanksgiving morning also means an early run at the Sparta Education Foundation's  5K Turkey Trot fundraising event. Again this year, despite the bitter cold, runners arrived eager for the early start.

"There were 1800 runners pre-registered this year and about 2100 participants," according to Dorothy LaBeau, Trustee of the Sparta Education Foundation. 

A notable presence at the race, all in yellow t-shirts,  was the Eastern Propane team with approximately 130 participants.  

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The evening before the run was the Pasta Dinner at Lake Mohawk Country Club where for $5 runners not only got a hearty pre-race meal but also received their race packets in advance.  The dinner was provided by Villa Capri II.

The race has nine different age categories beginning with six years-old through the 70+ age group.  In each group there are bouquets for each top male and female finisher.  The bouquets were provided by the Lake Mohawk Flower Company.  There were also medals and prizes for all age categories and trophies for the top finishers.

You need not run a 5K to participate.  There were plenty of people who participated in the one mile fun run.  There were also walkers both  in the shorter and longer distances.

The Sparta Education Foundation was founded by community members in 2006.  To date they have donated $409,578.42 to the Sparta public schools, fulfilling 26 grants.  This past June nearly $55 thousand in grants were awarded,  including $53,303 for classroom reading libraries in every class kindergarten through grade 5 and Creative Curriculum Children's Literature for Pre-K classrooms. 

For the past two  years the winter fundraising event was Casino Night.  In past years it was Cabaret on the Boardwalk.  Both events were successful in providing an enjoyable evening for raising money for the foundation. 

The stated mission of the foundation is both to raise funds "to make ongoing charitable contributions that will  enrich the educational experience of children in the Sparta public schools and to promote pride and positive awareness in the Sparta public schools."

For more information about events, ways to donate or volunteer you can go to http://www.spartaeducationfoundation.org/index.htm