By: Cody Weems
Image Via: Mike Bartoszek/FME News Service
Santa will soon be trading in his reindeer for a Harley.
Local motorcycle clubs will be collecting toys for needy families for the 25th annual Tri-County Toy Run set for Dec. 3.
Riders will congregate at the American Legion Post No. 133, 1300 S. 25th St., and will ride to the Holiday House in Lampasas where toys will be distributed to non-profit organizations from Bell, Lampasas and Coryell counties.
The American Legion has participated in the event since 1999, Commander John Potts said.
“They will provide toys for between 8,500 and 9,000 children this year,” Potts said. “Last year, we raised a little over $18,000, plus we had 36 boxes of toys and 26 bicycles.”
Bikers wanting to participate should bring a toy or monetary donation to the American Legion building on the morning of Dec. 3. A free breakfast will be served, beginning at 9:30 a.m., and the convoy will depart at about 1 p.m. led by Toy Run Chairman Bruce Raymond dressed as Santa Claus.
Raymond said the event usually draws about 1,000 riders and even eclipsed the 2,500 mark once.
“The time we had 2,500, I was riding up front the (Texas Department of Public Safety) told me when I entered Copperas Cove city limits that the last bike was just leaving the American Legion (in Temple). It stretched out over 25 miles,” Raymond said.
Since 2008, the program has distributed toys to more than 65,000 children.
“Taking something to a child who didn’t even know they were going to get a Christmas — you can’t explain it until you’re physically there and you actually see it,” he said. “There shouldn’t be a kid without a Christmas. It’s really sad that you have that many children in our area that don’t know if they’re going to get a Christmas.”
Toys will be distributed between about 23 local charities while cash donations will be used to purchase gift cards.
“This is all about the kids,” Raymond said. “We don’t have any set amount you have to contribute. Any donation or a new toy will be accepted. All you have to do is show up at the American Legion and register.”