KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — For more than two decades, Girls on the Run has been serving young girls in the Greater Kalamazoo region. The nonprofit is now hoping the community will step up to help support these girls as well.

More than 1,000 girls in grades three through five from 50 different schools in the Greater Kalamazoo area will participate in a 5K on May 20. To put on a successful race, the organization relies on help from approximately 500 volunteers. As of late April, the organization had less than half of that number signed up.

“We want to have people on site ready to help park families so that families can safely enter the event. Then we also have people on the course who are monitoring safety, who are there for first aid purposes, handing out water, and just cheering on the girls. So, there’s a variety of roles available to volunteer for and different shifts depending on what our volunteers are able to do,” Brittany Melendez, race coordinator, said.

Melendez added that regardless of what position you volunteer for, it’s a rewarding day.

“There’s no part of the day where you won’t get to be surrounded by girls who are just having such a good time, many of whom for the very first time are taking part in an activity with a team, with a coach, meeting a super big goal. So, it’s just overall a really joyful day, and not often do we get to volunteer somewhere where there’s just joy all around us, so it’s a really great opportunity,” she said.

Due to capacity limitations, Girls on the Run is offering two race waves. The first will take place at 9:30 a.m. on May 20, with the second starting at 1:30 p.m. Volunteers can choose to donate their time at one or both waves. Melendez said the biggest need right now in terms of volunteer roles are parking, first aid and tear down.

You can learn more about Girls on the Run Greater Kalamazoo, the 5K and volunteer opportunities here