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Archive for Friday, November 3, 2006

Bikers rev up for Toys for Tots benefit ride

Weekend event kicks off fundraising for Lawrence holiday toy collection

November 3, 2006

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Don't be surprised if you see Santa Claus hauling a toy around on a Harley while riding around Lawrence on Saturday.

The first Bikers' Tour for Tots will kick off fundraising and collecting for Douglas County Toys for Tots this holiday season.

"I've seen mothers come to pick out toys for their children, and I've seen how happy they are to be able to do that," said Roni Bregman, a Toys for Tots board member.

Nationally, Toys for Tots operates through the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. Volunteers started the charitable program in Douglas County in 1990, and they rely mostly on board members and local donations to provide toys and gifts for Douglas County children in need.

Last year, volunteers collected enough toys for 1,590 Douglas County children and teenagers.

"We're thinking we may even have more than that this year. Somehow every year it works out that the community rallies around us," said Mary Jones, Toys for Tots coordinator.

The motorcycle ride begins 11 a.m. Saturday at 608 N. Second St. in North Lawrence and includes a jaunt through Leavenworth County and Eudora. Organizers hope at least 50 riders from the area will participate.

It will be the first major toy drive of the season. When the ride ends at Slow Ride Roadhouse, 1350 N. Third St., riders also will participate in a 50/50 raffle, chili feed and prize drawings.

Up until Christmas, volunteers collect new toys and money to buy gifts, and they are distributed to families during toy shops in December, including one through the Salvation Army.

Toys for Tots also will have a fundraiser Dec. 2-24 at both Lawrence Hy-Vee stores. Donors can drop off new toys at boxes in the store or give a donation.

Volunteers also hope to collect 500 toys during their fourth annual Drive for 500 family fair from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 9 at the Dole Institute of Politics on Kansas University's west campus.

After Nov. 11, other drop boxes and change jars will crop up across town. For more information about Douglas County Toys for Tots, call Jones at 766-3023.

"We're already getting calls of people requesting help for Christmas and of people trying to help, so it usually works out real well," Jones said.

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