28th Annual Toys for Tots Ride - Springfield, MO

28th Annual Toys for Tots Ride
Almost 900 motorcycles made a cold day a little warmer for the needy children of the Ozarks when they attended the 28th Annual Toys for Tots run held by the Marine Corps in Springfield, Missouri on December 7, 2008. Under a beautiful sunny sky, with the winter temps in the mid 30s, the motorcyclists made the four-mile ride from the outer city limits of Springfield to the Strafford Elementary school in Strafford, Missouri. The motorcycles formed almost two miles of constant chrome and thunder, with bikes from all over the area attending. Toys to fill the needs of the children were so plentiful it took two large military trucks and trailers to haul them all.

With the current state of the economy, many children who might otherwise have no Christmas because of events beyond their parent’s control will now have a little something under the Christmas tree. Many businesses from the local area donated lots of neat door prizes for the lucky winners of the raffle tickets. Businesses such as Chubby Customs, Daily Pub, Ballpark Pub, and others were showing their support to the local biker community with their donations. The Galloping Goose MC and riders from the local B.A.C.A. organization also were on hand offering the Marine Corps a helping hand with the swarms of cyclists who brought toys. As I sat in the bleachers, there was a steady stream of people bringing in all kinds of toys. It took almost an hour or more to gather them all up, with Marines coming and going from the truck with loads of toys in their arms.

The motorcyclists from Springfield have long been known for the generosity. The last two years of the run have had some serious weather issues, so it was very fortunate that the bikers were able to ride this year in some decent weather, albeit a little on the cold side. It also seemed to help greatly with the turnout. As mentioned previously, the current state of the economy and the loss of jobs and income of the local population really are driving an increase in people needing help. Almost all of the donations go to local organizations such as the Salvation Army and Crosslines, who tell the Marines how many children they need to provide for. Another great help for the Marines was the fact that a local radio station, US97 was on hand to help promote it with a live feed, and they also had a drop-off point set up in their parking lot the last few weeks for people to leave donations. Donations were also being taken at the US97 offices at the Old Tower Theater on Glenstone.

It needs to be noted that due to unconfirmed reports that the Springfield Police Department was seeking payment to help with traffic control, the route has changed to move outside the city limits the last two years to the dismay of many local residents that have in the past lined Glenstone Avenue to view the procession. It is the general consensus among the many bikers that attend that the city would do better to let them host it again in the city limits to help the cause. It is also hoped that the police chief will find a way to again help the community hold it in the city limits also. Many would like to thank the Greene County Sheriff’s Department and the Strafford Police Department for the help they provided for such a wonderful cause.

Many thanks go out to the local motorcyclists that participated in the event, as well as The Galloping Goose MC, B.A.C.A., the Marine Corps Reserves (a big salute to Gunnery SGT Vince Segura, the coordinator, HOO-RAA), and the many, many businesses that help make this one of the premier runs in the Ozarks to benefit the children in this area who would otherwise have a very limited or no Christmas at all. Giving is what Christmas is all about, and with the commercialization of many aspects of the season, seeing the bikers come with great heart and lots of love, reminds me and others, just what the season really means and is all about. I can just see in my dreams the smiles upon smiles these riders provide to the children. Ride safe.

By Jim Austin