Hundreds of motorcycle riders will be rolling through the streets of Nash County this weekend under police escort as part of a charity ride to generate Christmas toys for local needy children.
The 26th annual Rocky Mount Harley-Davidson H.O.G. Chapter Toy Run kicks off this Saturday morning at the Harley Dealership at 928 Winstead Ave.
Biker pay $10 to ride the 19-mile event, which starts and ends at the dealership. They can also participate by bringing a new, unwrapped toy.
Registration begins at 9 a.m. and the ride begins at noon.
The proceeds from the raffle of a 2012 Sportster motorcycle are going towards the toy drive, which is being administered by the Salvation Army.
Lt. Matt Trantham, who oversees the Salvation Army’s local chapter, said the Toy Run is a godsend for that organization.
“The truth is it is absolutely fabulous,” he said. “The more folks we have who help us, the less (toys) that we have to actually go out and buy from money we receive during the year. And the more we can save in buying toys, the more we can help people during the year.”
Three thousand raffle tickets are being sold to generate funds to buy toys, with tickets selling for $10 apiece or three for $25. Second prize is a $300 Visa gift card.
Last year, the event raised between $6,500 and $7,000. With the proceeds, the Rocky Mount Harley Owners Group Chapter in early December rode to Walmart in Rocky Mount and purchased Christmas toys with the funds. Also, a truck was filled with donated toys at last year’s Toy Run in November, with the Salvation Army handling the distribution.
“What we are trying to accomplish is to raise funds to help children in Edgecombe and Nash counties with Christmas,” said Glen Jewett, the director of the Rocky Mount H.O.G. chapter.
He said toys for older children, particularly teenagers, are usually harder to come by.
“I usually confer with the Salvation Army about what their needs are during the week prior to our going shopping (at Walmart),” he said.
People can donate to the Toy run if they are not a biker or participating in the ride itself, said Mary Smith, MotorClothes merchandise manager for the Rocky Mount Harley-Davidson dealership.
They can donate toys at the dealership on Saturday or buy raffle tickets for the motorcycle, she said.
There is also a social aspect to the event for riders, Smith said. The event features live music, a lunch for riders, door prizes and a 50/50 raffle.
“It creates a sense of camaraderie, coming together as a group of riders and fulfilling a need,” she said. “Who doesn’t want to help a child? We want to make sure no children are with nothing under the tree. Many of our riders have experienced that as children. Now that they are at a different place in life, they want to make sure it doesn’t happen to people in our community.”