Boxes decorated with holiday wrapping paper overflowed with toys, dolls, basketballs, footballs and games, a clear sign that Harley-Davidson of Carroll’s annual Christmas Toy Run was more successful than ever this year.
The Toy Run collects gifts for New Opportunities to distribute to children throughout Carroll County. Boosting the haul this year, donation boxes were up for weeks before the event at Bomgaars, Dollar General, Fareway, Hy-Vee and Walmart. And motorcyclists added to the collection, bringing gifts as they arrived for the ride on Sunday afternoon, Oct. 3.
Enjoying sunny, 70-degree weather, riders traveled from Harley-Davidson on Plaza Drive north to New Hope and circling the campus homes there, west on 18th Street to Quint Avenue, south to Ninth Street, east through Graham Park, then returned to the cycle store. Back at the store, participants were treated to a free chili feed provided by Hy-Vee.
Nikkie Lay, Harley-Davidson of Carroll director of marketing, estimated the ride, led by Santa and Mrs. Claus on a 2018 Harley Tri Glide, drew 70 to 80 motorcyclists.
“It went very well,” Lay said. “We want to thank everybody for their donations and Hy-Vee for donating chili for everybody. It was a great ride and a great time all around.
“It’s overwhelming. We’re going to help a lot of kids this year. That’s awesome. Our community always comes together for each other, and that’s beautiful.”
Terry Ruchti, Harley-Davidson of Carroll owner, said of the event, which signals the approaching end of the motorcycle riding season, “It’s always a good time to get out and see the fall colors and enjoy what Mother Nature does for us every year.
“The Toy Run especially touches our hearts that we can help children have a good Christmas. For just a little bit of time, we can forget about problems in the world. We have at least one day we can enjoy life and what this great country has done for us. And it’s great to have Santa Claus come in every year.
“Thank you to all the people who brought all these wonderful toys in. I think people really opened up and said, ‘We’re going to do what we can do.’ Every toy is appreciated.”
Also, some riders gave cash donations.
“New Opportunities will have the ability to make sure people have a good Christmas. That’s what’s important,” Ruchti said.
Stan and Sandy Gibson of Scranton, who have been married 58 years, have led the ride a number of years as Santa and Mrs. Claus, and he said, “I enjoy being with the group and helping kids who wouldn’t have much of a Christmas without these toys. … You have to think of the little ones.”
RoAnn Kofron, New Opportunities Family Development Center coordinator for Carroll County, said of the Toy Run, “They kick off the giving season for us and are instrumental in getting the program off and running each year. The amount they bring in helps fill in gaps for kids who aren’t adopted out (through giving trees and similar programs). … We’re thankful to Harley-Davidson to kick off the toy drive for us every year. It’s great.”
New Opportunities last year provided gifts for 305 children from newborns through 14-year-olds.
Kofron suggested the best way to help New Hope is to select a tag with a child’s gift requests at either Bomgaars or at the Family Development Center, 23751 Highway 30 East. Those are available beginning usually in November. Cash donations to the Family Development Center are also welcome. Designate “Christmas Toys” on the check’s memo line.
Kofron said she hopes children can all be adopted out through the tag trees in a timely manner. Last year, a late rush via social-media and Facebook was needed to serve all the children.