The Fraser Valley Toy Run is back this year on Oct. 20 for its 27th year, and while it's open to motorcycle enthusiasts of all kinds, organizer Barney Hopkins hopes that non-riders will also come out to support the poignant cause.
"Even if you don't ride, or don't want to ride your bike, please come down to the Ag-Rec, and watch the bikers come in. Bring your family in the car. The more people that get involved, the more we can help the kids," he said.
The annual charity run, held the first Sunday after Thanksgiving each year, collects new toys and cash donations that go to lowincome families struggling to put gifts under their Christmas trees.
All donations go to Abbotsford Community Services, which then distributes the teddy bears and trucks and cash to its Christmas bureau and to its counterparts in Chilliwack, Mission, Hope and Agassiz.
"Everybody, all those five communities get something out of the toy run," said Hopkins.
The charity ride began in 1986 with Hopkins' parents, Barney Sr. and Lenore (they were affectionately called Pa and Ma by everyone, not just their kids), and some of their eight adult children.
The Mission family would ride in the annual event together until Barney Sr.'s death. For many years after, until she was into her 70s, Lenore would ride a vintage white threewheeler Harley that her children bought for her.
Hopkins and his siblings have continued to the tradition after she passed away three years ago. Someone will be riding Ma's bike again this year.
To cover the event's expenses, ride volunteers hold hot dog sales, garage sales through the year and sell toy run T-shirts, he said.
Last year, the City of Abbotsford came through with a grant to help cover costs. This year donations from the Dewdney-Alouette
Regional District and a financial institution should also help, said Hopkins.
They also connect with local bike clubs in the Fraser Valley to get them to participate.
While only 150 riders took part last year due to heavy rain, some years, close to 900 motorcyclists have participated, bringing in almost 1,000 new toys.
The event culminates at the Ag-Rec building in Abbotsford. Riders and others can get doughnuts and coffee, buy toy ride T-shirts and hats, and enter draws and raffles.
There are draws for a Harley Davidson jacket, a one-night stay in Harrison Hot Springs, meat packages, pillows and a king-size quilt that the women riders spent the year making.
Donated toys and gifts should be new and unwrapped.
"And don't forget the teenagers. We don't expect an iPod, but even something useful like a razor or a gift certificate would be appreciated," Hopkins said.
The ride will leave Mission from the parking lot of Liquidation World on Horne Street at 9:45 a.m. on Oct. 20.
The ride from Chilliwack leaves the Sears parking area at Cottonwood Mall on Luckakuck Way at 9 a.m. The two groups meet at the Abbotsford Automall before arriving at the Ag-Rec building in Abbotsford at about 10:15 a.m. There is no registration or entry fee-just show up. The ride and the event at Ag-Rec are on rain or shine. This is a pinned event, all bikes are welcome.
Volunteers will be on site to take donations until about 12:30 p.m.
. To find out more details you can contact Hopkins at 604-832-3243.
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