Toy Run brings hundreds of riders together for good cause

There were 317 bikes parked at the CN Centre parking lot Sunday afternoon in anticipation of the 37th annual Toy Run.

The Toy Run sees all participants donate a toy or more, taking to the streets of Prince George for a leisurely ride that ends at the Salvation Army Community Support Centre on 18th Ave.

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There were toys strapped to the back or front of motorcycles, some were tucked away in saddle bags, some were too awkwardly shaped to stay on the bike during the run and had already found their way into the donation bins set up under tents at the far end of the parking lot.

There was one thing for sure, every single person was there for the same reason - to help make Christmas a little brighter for children in need in Prince George.

All donations, big or small, will go to the Salvation Army Christmas Hamper program where more than 350 families are recipients each year.

A community of motorcycle riders started the Toy Run, which then fell into the hands of the Harley Owners Group and now while riders participate and donate, it's the Salvation Army that takes on the organizational details for the annual event.

"We are honoured and blessed to be part of this event," Bill Glasgow, donor relations and fundraising coordinator for the Salvation Army, said. "We feel lucky to be involved."

Len Hall, owner of the local Harley Davidson shop, said he's been involved in the event for the last 25 years.

"This is about the riding community helping the Salvation Army gather toys for the Christmas hampers for the kids and that's what this is all about," Hall said.

One of the many riders is Steve Nickolls, who's been participating in the season-end Toy Run for the last six years.

"It's all about the kids - giving to underprivileged kids," Nickolls said. "I load up my saddle bag with as many toys as I can bring and unload them at the Salvation Army and just enjoy the ride."

Nicholls, standing beside his 2012 Harley Davidson Fatboy, looked out over the crowd of motorcyclists waiting for the ride to start with a grin on his face.

"This is fantastic and you know that everyone is here for the same reason I am," Nickolls said, adding it's really nice to ride together on the Toy Run. "When you go on the run sometimes there's people standing along the side of the road - little kids waving - it just warms your heart."

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