Andrew Olsen, 42, of Cutchogue, crosses the finish line followed...

Andrew Olsen, 42, of Cutchogue, crosses the finish line followed closely by Mary Vines, 43, of Brooklyn, at the inaugural Cutchogue Fire Department Stuff the Sleigh 5K Run in Cutchogue. Nearly 400 Long Islanders showed up to run the department's first holiday fundraiser and support the local community. (Dec. 16, 2012) Credit: Michael Cusanelli

When Mary Vines and nearly 400 other Long Islanders decided to take a jog along the North Fork on Sunday, it wasn’t just to get their minds off holiday shopping or to run off some extra holiday calories.

The runners donated more than 300 toys and dozens of nonperishable food items to local families as a part of the Cutchogue Fire Department’s inaugural Stuff the Sleigh 5K Run.

“I also think its a fun way to spend the holidays,” said Vines, 35, of Brooklyn. “It’s a wonderful feeling of camaraderie.”

The Cutchogue Fire Department held the charity run this weekend as a way to raise money for local families and collect toys for children in need. More than 300 runners registered online for the fire department’s charity run, with dozens more showing up the morning of the race.

“Its good for community spirit,” said Tom Shalvey, ex-fire chief of Cutchogue Fire Department and creator of the run. “It gets people in the community involved and they feel great.”

In addition to a $25 pre-registration fee, runners were asked to bring one unopened toy for Community Action Southold Town, a group dedicated to helping local residents. All of the money from registration will go toward local scholarships, charities, and cancer associations.

“Everything we bring in goes right back out to the community,” said Barbara Shalvey, 53, of Cutchogue, whose husband created the run. “Our main reason [for the race] was for the toy drive and for the community so we could help local families so they would have a better Christmas too.”

The race began outside of the firehouse and wound its way down Grathwohl Road before looping back to New Suffolk Road. Medals were awarded to the top three runners in each of the five age categories. In addition, medals were given to the top three first responders to finish the race.

Nicholas Berglin, 15, of Hampton Bays, was the first person to cross the finish line with a time of 18 minutes and 15 seconds. His twin brother finished in third place at 19 minutes and 6 seconds.

“Especially after the hurricane people are destroyed,” said Berglin. “Something like this will really help people.”

The Cutchogue Fire Department plans on holding a holiday run every year in order to raise money for local families.

“I think more than ever we have to run not for ourselves but for other people,” said Linda Simon, 59, of Jericho. “We have to do more positive things for each other.”

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