Forget Santa’s sleigh and red coat when there are 300 motorcycles riders in black leather vests to carry the children’s toys.
Motorcyclists hopped on their bikes Sunday to collect toys and money for families at Fort Gordon’s Christmas House. The 13th annual Augusta Toy Run was organized by the Southeastern Paralyzed Veterans of America.
Each rider donated at least one new, unwrapped toy or $10 to help military families who qualify for welfare and food stamps. Riders strapped teddy bears, toy trucks and board games to their bikes for the 45-minute ride.
“In every event, the joy and the support of these riders has just poured out,” said Larry Dodson, the vice president of the veterans group and the event’s founder. “These motorcyclists are willing to give when they don’t have any to give.”
The motorcycles cruised down Broad Street and River Watch Parkway before heading to the chapter headquarters at 4010 Deans Bridge Road.
Jimmy Palushock, of Augusta, has participated in the toy ride at least six years and said the sight of toys piled high is overwhelming.
“Look how much we’ve given to kids in the local area that don’t have as much or can’t get presents from anywhere else,” he said.
The collection helps 600 children from about 300 families, said Nancy Moore, a Fort Gordon Christmas House volunteer. On Wednesday and Thursday, families will pick up three presents for each child.
“When they go into that toy room, it’s like a store,” Moore said. “There are a lot of young soldiers who wouldn’t have Christmas for their family otherwise.”