With the Christmas season already in full swing, motorcycle fund-raising rides switch gears and focus on children who are less fortunate. The United States Marino Corps Reserve's popular "Toys for Tots" is a big charity this time of year and one of the longer running motorcycle rides supporting it takes place Saturday in Oceanside, CA.
The 26th annual Toys for Tots Benefit Ride is sponsored by the American Legion Riders Chapter 146 and helps military families in need and provides toys for children with deployed parents. The ride started in 1988 as part of the National Toys for Tots initiative by members of a Gold Wing group. As many as 800 riders have participated in the past though organizers expect about 300 this year because of the weather forecast.
"Camp Pendleton Toys for Tots collects the toys and takes them to a warehouse and they are disbursed through their sources the week before Christmas to parents who sign up for it," said Brenda Gallo, Toys for Tots chairwoman. "This ride is to raise funds and get toys for military families who otherwise might not have a Christmas. Every child deserves to have at least one gift under the tree Christmas morning."
Entry fee for the ride is $20 and a new, unwrapped toy. As a result, thousands of toys get donated and the cash raised is divided between Toys for Tots and the USMCR and other veteran causes. Camp Pendleton Toys for Toys stores the gifts at a nearby warehouse. The route for this year's ride is a 72-mile trek through the north San Diego County area led by ride leaders and road captains.
"I've done this ride for about six years, it's a fun group and very rewarding to see just how many toys are collected. We in the biker community are always promoting service to community, our military and our veterans," Gallo said.
Register online for the 26th annual Toys for Tots benefit Ride or in person from 8 to 9 a.m. Saturday at the Veterans Association of North County Building, 1617 Mission Ave. in Oceanside, CA. Kickstands up at 10 a.m. An after party features food, music, venders and a 50/50 raffle.
Other Rides Scheduled This Weekend
DFW Toys for Toys Motorcycle Run November 23: This 47-mile ride benefits DFW Toys for Tots Foundation. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. and kickstands up at 10:30 a.m. at Freedom Powersports McKinney, 2110 N. Central Expressway Ste. 100 in McKinney, TX.
Marine Toys for Tots November 23: The American Legion Riders Fountain Hills Post 58 hosts this ride benefiting the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation. There are three ride routes: West Route starts at The Salty Senorita, 8011 W. Paradise Lane in Peoria, AZ; East Route starts at Chester's Harley-Davidson, 922 S. Country Club Drive, Mesa, AZ; Scottsdale Route starts at Renegade by Mod, 9343 E. Shea Blvd. in Scottsdale, AZ.
Jingle Bell Toy Run November 23: The Statesville HOG Chapter hosts the Jingle Bell Run benefiting underprivileged families in the Statesville, NC area. Registration begins at 10 a.m. and the police escorted ride starts at 12:30 p.m. at Tilley Harley-Davidson, 1226 Morland Dr. in Statesville, NC.
Santa Claus Toy Run November 23: The 11th annual Santa Claus Toy Run benefits organizations that provide toys for underprivileged children. Pre-register or register day of from 8 to 11 a.m. is on Saturday at Renegade Classics Sacramento, 6758 Folsom Blvd. in Sacramento, CA and Guidera's Harley-Davidson, 720 W. Onstott Frontage Rd. in Yuba City, CA.
Toys for Tots Toy Run November 23: This 11th annual toy run benefits Toys for Tots. Registration begins at 10 a.m. and kickstands up at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at Heritage Park, 861 SE Main St. in Simpsonville, SC.
30th Annual Toy Run November 23: The Lehigh Valley Chapter of A.B.A.T.E. sponsors this 30th annual run which benefits Volunteers of America Children's Center and Turning Point of Lehigh Valley. Registration is at 10 a.m. and kickstands up at 12 p.m. Saturday at Dorney Park, 3830 Dorney Park Road in Allentown, PA.
Toys for Tots Rally/Ride November 23: No registration fee - just a toy. Toys are loaded into a large Marine vehicle beginning at 10 a.m. and once all toys are loaded the ride begins. Toy load and ride is at Rocket Harley-Davidson, 15100 Hwy. 20 W in Madison, AL
Toys for Tots Collection Ride November 24: The 17th annual Toys for Tots Collection Ride is hosted by the Law Riders Motorcycle Club. Registration begins at 10 a.m. and police escorted ride starts at 12 p.m. Sunday at Exchange Park fairgrounds, HWY 78 in Ladson, SC.
33rd Annual Toys for Kids Parade November 24: The 33rd annual Toys for Kids Parades benefits Tresco TOTS and helps children throughout Dona Ana County, NM. Registration is from 9 to 11:30 a.m. Sunday at Mesilla Valley Mall, 700 S. Telshor Blvd. in Las Cruces, NM. Motorcycles must be street legal to participate in the parade.