The way Ed Einhaus sees it, organized runs are good charity fundraisers. But they are even better community builders, bringing athletes into the charity fold, and charitable types into the exercise world. The synergy they create improves communities, he said.

Einhaus, 58, has been a runner for most of his adult life, and has been in lots of charity races over the years. He is a project coordinator for Affordable Homes of Millville Ecumenical, also known as AHome, a non-profit housing development corporation in Millville.

On May 12 he'll direct his second Heart of Millville 5K, which will raise money to help build a community center in Millville. Last year's inaugural race only broke even, but this year he expects more participants. He also sees the race as a way to increase awareness about the need for a community center.

The North Wildwood resident also participates in Port Norris Rotary and Bayshore Discovery Project's Run for the Schooner 5K, to be held this year April 9 in Port Norris. It raises money to maintain the historic oyster schooner AJ Meerwald.

Last year the run had 80 participants and several sponsors, and raised $4,000 after expenses, said Laura Johnson, Marketing and Development Director for the Bayshore Discovery Project. Organizers are hoping for at least 100 runners this year and to eventually attract 200 runners, Johnson said.

"I run it because it's a neat course," Einhaus said of paths along berms lining the Maurice River, with views of the Delaware Bay. The race also takes runners on small roads in the tiny town of Port Norris, and on a long tree-lined trail back to the Bayshore headquarters.

"I'm not a member of Bayshore Discovery Project, but I am interested and there's a chance I'll get more interested," Einhaus said.

The first charity race of the season is the First Day at the Beach 5K on the Ocean City Boardwalk on New Year's Day, which pools the funds it raises with those raised by the First Night activities on New Year's Eve, sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce.

The final tally isn't in yet for what this year's events raised, but in the last few years it has given $1,000 to $2,000 to each of three beneficiaries: an Ocean City Scholarship for the Arts, the After Prom Committee, and the Ensign John R. Elliott HERO Campaign for Designated Drivers. Although the number of participants grows each year, the profits haven't kept pace with the cost of entertainment and other costs, said Chamber President Michelle Gillian.

"We're still able to give to charities, but not as much as we used to," she said. But the event cements relationships among locals, and between locals and summer home owners, who come down in large numbers for First Night and First Day on the Beach, she said.

In Atlantic City, the Atlantic City Marathon Race Series is putting on its second April Fools Run. This year it's added a half-marathon to the mix, along with an 11K and a 7K.

Race director Genia Chapman, who also directs the Atlantic City Marathon in October, said the April Fools Run will benefit the nonprofit Jewish Community Center, which organizes the race series, and three charities. They are: a Christian group called Hope for Atlantic City, which works on improving conditions in Atlantic City neighborhoods through housing improvement, tutoring, after school programs, and mentorship; the Atlantic City Rescue Mission, which houses and feeds the homeless; and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

Last year the inaugural April Fools Run raised a little more than $1,000 for one recipient, the local chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Chapman said.

"We anticipate being able to raise a more substantial amount of money this year," she said, with about 2,500 runners expected, compared to 1,000 last year. She said adding the half-marathon made the race more appealing to competitive runners.

"We're attracting people outside the local community," she said. "We have close to 20 states represented."

Katie Fourqurean, 28, of Upper Township, is a social worker in the Atlantic City school system. She was a runner in high school at Holy Spirit, and occasionally participates in charity runs. She is active with one of the recipients, Hope for Atlantic City, a nonprofit affiliated with the New City Fellowship Church in Ventnor. So even though she is working 90 hours a week between her full-time job, graduate school and an internship, she's making time to run in the April Fool's 7K.

Lee Hepner, 55, of Hopewell Township, got involved with the Run for the Schooner through his Rotary group in 2009. That experience led him to become a Bayshore Discovery Project volunteer. He will do the Run for the Schooner for the fourth year in a row this year - as a Walkathon on the 5K course.

The first year he participated, he sent letters to all his customers, friends and family, and raised $1,000 from sponsors. That gave him an investment in the group, which led to volunteering.

He said he had always known about Bayshore Discovery Project and its AJ Meerwald schooner. But he didn't get involved until his positive experience at the walk convinced him to make time for doing things he liked. Now he volunteers both on the schooner, and on land.

He owns Dutch Neck Landscaping in Bridgeton, so some of the volunteering he does is related to that work. "I have access to the machinery" to grade property or dig a hole. "I'll do whatever they ask me," he said.

Contact Michelle Brunetti Post:

609-272-7219

Races that raise money

Atlantic City Marathon Race Series April Fool's Half Marathon, 11K and 7K, 8 a.m.

April 1 at Michigan Avenue and Boardwalk, Atlantic City. Register at www.active.com or www.crowdrise.com/AtlanticCityHalfMarathon. $65 half marathon, other races less. For information visit www.acmarathon.org/.

Run for the Schooner, 5K, Walkathon and

1-mile fun run, 8 a.m. to noon April 9, at Bayshore Discovery Project in Port Norris. 5K $15 prepaid, $20 race day. 1-mile $15. Information and registration form at www.ajmeerwald.org or call 856-785-2060 or info@bayshorediscovery.org/.

Heart of Millville 5K, 9 a.m. May 12, on the Millville Maurice River Recreational Trail beginning at Waltman Park. $25 for 5K by May 10 for adults $10 students; $30 and $10 later. Call Ed Einhaus at 856-293-0100 or email ed.e.heartofmillville@gmail.com or visit www.tnteventmanagement.com/.