Daily Hampshire Gazette - Established 1786
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Hot Chocolate runners hit pavement Sunday

— The signature fund drive for a Northampton-based agency working to address violence against women is on tap for Sunday.

Organizers of the ninth annual Hot Chocolate Run for Safe Passage have capped participation at 5,500 runners and walkers for the second year in a row. They are also hoping to break last year’s record of $165,000 in net revenue.

Funds from the Hot Chocolate Run come from a combination of sponsors, registration fees for runners and walkers, and donations. Runners and walkers are asked to recruit sponsors through online fundraising pages.

Money raised at the event covers 15 to 20 percent of Safe Passage’s annual budget.

Participants choose a two-mile walk or a 5k run, which both begin and end at the corner of Old South Street and Hampton Avenue.

Safe Passage offers a wide range of support services for survivors of domestic violence in Hampshire County, including a six-family emergency shelter. According to Sarah Smith, Safe Passage’s director of development, businesses have contributed more than $63,000 in sponsorships to date, an increase over last year’s sponsorship total of $44,500.

About 35 downtown Northampton restaurants and retailers have pledged to donate 5 percent of their sales Sunday to Safe Passage. Participating business will be identified by posters in their windows.

Each participant in the Hot Chocolate Run receives a ceramic mug full of hot chocolate at the finish line. As in past years, the mug was designed by Hilary Price, creator of the syndicated cartoon “Rhymes With Orange.”

While registration closed Nov. 18, when the race reached its capacity, donations are being accepted.

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