On a chilly Sunday morning, personal trainer Maurice Johnson exhorted droves of runners of all ages, some of them in turkey-like headdresses and other accessories as they milled about ready to make a 5K trip through Waveny Park.

More than 350 people ran or walked at the 12th Annual Turkey Trot, an annual tradition in New Canaan which raises funds for Norwalk’s Open Door Shelter, a 95-bed facility that provides 370 hot meals a day to men, women, and children.

Dean McLeod, 24, and Carl Audie, 23, of Norwalk donned decorative turkey hats. Audie, a regular at area races, saw a notice for the run on-line and brought his friend along.

“We’ll probably try to come back next year just to keep it going,” McLeod said. “It’s a good workout and a good cause.”

The race typically held the weekend before Thanksgiving was founded by area families and each year a group of students from different town schools assumes the responsibility of organizing it.

This year’s event was organized by 16-year-old Paige Lord, 16-year-old, Morgan Connelly, 14-year-old David Tamburri, and 13-year-old Ted Schoenholtz.

This year’s registration far exceeded last year’s 150 runners, Lord said, and the group is hoping to net at least $15,000 from the race and a separate auction of donated prizes by local businesses.

“It’s a good way to give back and we’ve had a lot of community support,” said Lord, a junior at St. Luke’s School in New Canaan.

The Open Door Shelter maintains 42 beds for men, 22 for women, and 29 for families, and serves 60,000 meals a month to area residents including distributions from its food pantry, Executive Director Jeannette Archer Simons said.

Teenagers from New Canaan and other towns regularly volunteer to work in the soup kitchen or as mentors as part of a program for children living in the shelter, she said.

“It’s an amazing effort by the teens but what is really great is it is a learning experience for the volunteers,” Archer-Simons said. “I know as an employer I am always impressed to see when people have learned how to organize and manage something like this.”

The Open Door Shelter is at 4 Merritt St., Norwalk. For more information visit opendoorshelter.org.