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Runners will strip off clothes for the homeless in Charlotte’s South End on Saturday

About 400 runners are expected to shed some of their clothes during 5K and 8K races in Charlotte’s South End on Saturday, then have the clothing washed on site and given to the homeless.

Runners will remove one piece of clothing per mile during the “Strip it to Give it” races and festival, according to the event’s website,

The races are scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. at Triple C Brewing Co., 2900 Griffith St., with the event ending by 2:30 p.m. at the brewery.

Proceeds also will directly benefit two Charlotte non-profits that help the homeless -- the Jimmy CORE Foundation and RunningWorks, Inc.

Katie Gregory, a 30-year-old Charlotte native, came up with the idea for the benefit. She is an IT trainer at Novant Health who completed the New York City Marathon and the Novant Health Charlotte half-marathon.

Every Tuesday for the past decade, Gregory has joined a formerly homeless man named Arthur to hand out food and clothes to homeless people on Charlotte’s streets, Gregory told the Observer in an email.

“Friends and passersby would often ask how they could help,” Gregory said in the email. “Never did they realize that a new pair of socks or a gently used pair of shoes could change the day, and even week of a person.”

Gregory told the Observer that she dreamed up the Strip it to Give it idea a decade ago when she began distributing food and clothes to the homeless with Arthur. Every year, she told herself she was going to launch the effort, and this year she finally did.

“I think our city is ready for a race like this, a race where participants can directly see their efforts making a difference in a city they are proud to call home,” Gregory said. “We understand there may be a runner or two that gets crazy and strips down to their short shorts. You won’t find me doing that.”

By Wednesday afternoon, 310 runners had registered for the event, and organizers anticipate another 50 to 100 to sign up, Gregory said. Runners can also register on site the morning of the event, she said.

Joe Marusak has been a reporter for The Charlotte Observer since 1989 covering the people, municipalities and major news events of the region, and was a news bureau editor for the paper. He currently reports on breaking news.