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Do you know how many people can be found homeless in the streets of Charlotte on any given night?

1,500 people.

Katie Gregory found that number unnerving. She decided to take action to change the statistic by founding Strip It To Give It— a charity race designed to bring the Charlotte community together to give back to our homeless neighbors and support local organizations that are working to prevent and end homelessness.

We sat down with Katie to learn more about how she came up with the idea for the race and to learn how other's can join in the fight to end homelessness in Charlotte.

What is Strip It To Give It? It's a charity race with a goal of clothing our homeless neighbors. There are three distances you can sign up for—8k, 5k, and a mile fun run.

Runners or walkers will bundle up, and at every mile marker strip off an item of clothing and throw it in our drop bins. That clothing will be collected, washed, and distribute to our homeless men, women, and children. Participants can donate new or gently used items like jackets, gloves, hats, nice dress shirts, or even the shoes on your feet.

Where did you get the idea for the race? Large races, like the New York Marathon, often communicate to their runners that the extra layer of clothing they wear to keep warm before the start of a race would be donated to shelters if left at the start line. I loved the idea and wanted the extreme version of that. My senior year at Appalachian State I came up with the concept of Strip It To Give It. I wanted to generate awareness solely for homelessness in Charlotte, and in addition, collect a large amount of clothing for our neighbors in need. 9 years later…here we are.

What’s your involvement with the homeless community in Charlotte? Every Tuesday, over the last 15 years, I have joined “the hot dog man” serving food to the homeless on the corner of 4th and Mint. I have been able to build relationships with our homeless community, and I’m doing this race for them. I am doing this because in the winter months I can drive to work in a heated car, and I can look forward to coming home to a warm bed.

Tuesdays, I leave Uptown ,and I know that Darryl only relies on his clothing to keep him warm. I leave Uptown knowing that Rodney is proudly headed to his dishwashing job in South End, but his shoes have holes in them, and he can’t afford the rent in Charlotte. I leave Uptown, wishing I could do more, and I finally am with Strip it to Give it.

Tell me more about the organizations the race is supporting and why you chose to work with them. I wanted to work with organizations that tackled the issue of homelessness as a whole. I first got introduced to RunningWorks by some of my homeless guys that ran and participated in the program. RunningWorks is cool because they offer outreach services, housing initiatives, and fitness programs in Charlotte and surrounding areas. They help their participants navigate pathways to success in areas like health, mental health, employment, and housing.

The Jimmy CORE Foundation was started a few years ago, following the death of one of my friend’s brothers. The foundation was started to perpetuate Jimmy’s giving spirit and continue his mission to give people a hand, without expectation. The foundation serves the homeless of Charlotte, specifically joining the “hot dog man” every Tuesday, and most recently built a new laundry facility at the Men’s Shelter of Charlotte.

Do people have to “strip” down to their undies? Absolutely not, we ask for our participants to bundle up. But we are expecting some runners to go above and beyond and end up in only a little more than their birthday suit.

What are some race day details people should be excited for? The best thing about this race is that it starts at 11 AM. Hello, sleeping in! Not to mention after the race there are plenty of beer options on tap. Runners/walkers can learn more about race day specifics at www.stripit2giveit.com.

Is there a post-race party? It’s always a party at Triple C Brewing! We'll have a race DJ, live music, and a silent auction after the race. Be on the lookout for auction items from the Carolina Panthers, Charlotte Hornets, and FlyWheel just to name a few.

Will there be beer? There will be lots of beer available for purchase from Triple C Brewing.

What if people don’t want to run, how can they support the cause? Walkers are just as encouraged to participate as runners! People can also bring clothing items to donate, like new socks, new underwear, and gently used or new shoes. We are collecting monetary donations on our race site as well.

What are you hoping to accomplish with this race? The ultimate goal is for this to be Charlotte’s next big race. This race was intended to be built by the community, for the community. As a native to Charlotte, I love my city, and I want to see the best for it. This includes loving and taking care of our neighbors.

Solving the issues of homelessness is no easy task, but we can clothe them, and we can empower them. This race allows participants to make a direct impact on their city by donating items of clothing and supporting our beneficiaries that are preventing and ending the cycle of homelessness.

Are you ready to strip it to give it?

Sign up to participate on Saturday, January 5th at www.stripit2giveit.com or register in person on race day at Triple C Brewery. 

Be sure to follow Strip It To Give It on Instagram at @stripit2giveit for the latest news and updates.

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