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The fourth annual Purple 5k Race, which raises money to spread awareness of and prevent homelessness, is set for March 30.

Organized by the Downtown Billings Alliance, the race benefits the Billings Business Improvement District's Spare Change for Real Change program, which focuses on helping people transition out of homelessness.

"We focus on organizations that do work to end homelessness," said Joe Stout, who is helping to organize the race and is the business improvement district's supervisor. "We don’t diminish the work that house and feed people, because that's important. We want to help people transition from homeless life to a life in their own housing."

The 5k is open to runners of all ages and skill levels and is dog-friendly. It begins near the Montana State University Billings campus and winds through the hospital district before ending downtown.

"It’s all downhill, so that’s a draw," Stout said. "It’s definitely conducive to personal records."

Last year's race drew more than 400 runners and raised about $10,000. Stout said Spare Change for Real Change gave out $22,500 in grants over the last year to organizations including Volunteers of America, St. Vincent de Paul, the Montana Rescue Mission and the Hub, among others.

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The goal is to double that amount in 2013.

Organizers hope to have more than 500 people register this year and raise at least $10,000.

Stout said there's very little overhead for the 5k, so most of the money goes toward the grants.

"The more cash we get, the more we can grant," he said. "The whole idea is to help, so the bigger the grants, the bigger the difference we make."

Registration for the race is $23 per person and can be done online through the DBA website. Sponsorship opportunities are also available and Stout said they're always open to help from local businesses and citizens.

For more information, call 294-5060 or email info@4realchange.org.

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