It's a new year and Mahogany Bowers says she wants everyone to kick off 2018 with a "healthy body and healthy mind." That's why she is again hosting the annual Unity 5K on MLK and Music Festival to benefit her nonprofit, Blessings in a Bookbag.

The event is from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 13 at Forsyth Park. The kids' run starts at 9 a.m. followed by the 5K at 9:15 a.m. Register for the race in advance online or on race day beginning at 8 a.m. You can also register from 5-8 p.m. Jan. 11 at Kendra Scott, 311 W. Broughton St., or from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Jan. 12 at Fleet Feet Sports, 3405 Waters Ave.

The music festival at Forsyth Park is free, but you can still donate online to Blessings in a Bookbag to support the programming. The live music and festival starts at 10 a.m.

This year's event also features the debut of the Little Mr. and Miss MLK Day Pageant, which starts at noon. According to Bowers, the pageant is open to boys and girls ages 5 to 10. Winners receive a cash scholarship, crown, sash and a ride with Bowers in the MLK Day parade on Jan. 15. Registration is $25 online or at 94.1 The Beat radio station, 245 Alfred St.

"We're going to ask these children what their dreams are, how they feel about bullying ⦠and other important topics," Bowers says.

Two other new events at this year's festival include the literary corner and kids' zone.

"We want to focus on children and empowering families," Bowers explains. It's that same goal that powers her nonprofit, Blessings in a Bookbag, which provides food, clothing and resources to children whose families qualify for free and reduced meal plans and have little or no food to eat on the weekend.

"At the literary corner, we'll have free books and [Live Oak Public Libraries] representatives will be on hand to help children get a library card. We want children to go to the library again and check out books and read."

For the kids' corner, Bowers says she has partnered with other local nonprofits, including Loop It Up Savannah, to provide games and activities along with important information on local resources to help families.

"We're also going to have bounce houses and lots of healthy snacks for the kids," she adds.

As for the live music, Bowers says the "music is going to be amazing. We have some of the best local bands around and it will be a day of funk, jazz, blues and pop."

Bowers adds there will also be a variety of vendors, including food trucks.

"We've really gained some very valuable partners this year who are making this event so amazing. I try to hit on everything for these events - I like to give everyone what they want and what they need."


What: Sixth annual Unity 5K on MLK and Music Festival

When: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 13

Where: Forsyth Park

Cost: 5K is $35-$40; pageant is $25; music festival is free