Toys for Tots
GASTONIA, NORTH CAROLINA (Gaston Gazette) - Thousands of Gaston County children will have extra presents under the tree on Christmas morning, but they won’t know the gifts were delivered on sleighs of chrome.
Organizers of the 23rd annual Toys for Tots Motorcycle Ride give the toys to parents discreetly to avoid embarrassing needy families. They don’t need recognition, said ride coordinator Gerald Tate. The satisfaction of playing Santa Claus is enough.
“Their parents give the gift to them on Christmas morning and they think their parents bought it for them or Santa came in the night,” Tate said. “We don’t want to put a family in need on display. They still have their dignity, they still have their pride, and we want them to maintain that. We just want to help.”
Bikers will meet Sunday morning at the Erwin Community Center to deliver toys to the charities and social service agencies that will distribute them to local families. The toy run begins at 1 p.m. sharp and will take riders through a 20-mile course before ending at the Westfield Eastridge mall around 2:15.
To participate, each rider is asked to bring one new unwrapped toy.
“We do this because there’s a need, and whenever there’s a need, we try to fill in that gap,” Tate said. “Right now, the need’s bigger than ever because of the economic situation facing our entire country.”
Children get a little extra Christmas joy, and the bikers get an afternoon of camaraderie and full stomachs. Krispy Kreme of Gastonia is serving coffee and donuts before the ride, and a hot meal provided by the Toys for Tots organizing committee will be served at the rally point.
The toy run unites motorcycle club members, independent riders and anyone on two wheels who wants to make a difference.
“We cater to everyone,” Tate said. “Whether you’re riding a Harley or a Yamaha or a fast bicycle, we’ve got it.”
Non-riders are also invited to share in the celebration. Anyone can donate a toy in the mall parking lot and join the bikers for lunch.
Toys for Tots T-shirts will be on sale for $12 each and are available in adult sizes, plus extra large to 4XL.
Tate said participation is largely dependent on the weather. If skies are clear Sunday, he expects between 1,000 and 1,500 riders to take part in the event, which is billed the oldest toy run south of the Catawba River.
“It really helps the families,” he said. “It puts a smile on the kids’ faces. I’m sure they’re elated about getting a toy for Christmas — especially in times like these.”
Copyright 2015 Gaston Gazette
Updated 2007 days ago Article ID# 208652
Toys for Tots