Rides, Rallies and Events Recap

Christmas for the Children 26th Annual Toy Run - Joanna, South Carolina

Written by  February 1, 2015

The Christmas for the Children 26th Annual Toy Run was held on Sunday December 21 in Joanna, South Carolina. The first ride was held by the Sons of the South back in 1988, and this ride has grown over the years to over 250 riders.

My plan was to arrive at the staging area at the Royal Food Store at approximately 1 p.m. The ride was scheduled to start at 2 p.m., which I figured would give me plenty of time to get ready and take photos. Motorcyclists from the area planned to meet here and take the 20 minute ride down Highway 76, through Clinton, and on to Hillcrest Square in Laurens, South Carolina.

When I came down the Main Street of Joanna, there were about 30 motorcycles sitting behind the convenience store. I parked across the street and started taking photos as I walked over to where everyone was gathered. One of the first riders I talked to was Tommy Vanderford. Tommy told me he and the others in the group had been there since noon waiting for the rest of the riders to show up. As it got closer to 2 p.m., more and more riders pulled into the staging area. As time went on, I began hearing laughter coming from the different groups of riders. I believe this laughter may have been for two reasons. One they were going ride for a good cause and make children happy with the toys that was brought for Christmas gifts.

The toys from this ride were to be distributed by The Community Baptist Church of Clinton, South Carolina to the needy children. The driving force behind the toy ride is two chapters of The Sons of the South. The Cross Hill Chapter SC is headed up by Chapter President Tommy Vanderford, who has been a member since 2009, and Chapter Vice-President Lem Greene. The Sons of the South Clinton, SC Chapter is led by President Jamie Craig and Vice-President Richard Thackston. What I could see from just this ride is that these two chapters work well together to benefit the children of the community. At the end of the ride, a plaque was given to both chapters in appreciation for toys donate to the Community Baptist Church.

A few days before Christmas, more toys were donated to the toy ride by the people of Laurens County. Tommy told me he had called the Community Baptist Church and told them the two chapters had more toys for them. The church representative from the committee told Tommy they had more than enough toys to serve over 180 kids. Mr. Vanderford then told me the extra toys were donated to the Laurens County Sheriff’s Department, which would be given to children of the county.

I was wondering how did the Laurens County Sheriff's Office 5th Annual Toy Ride came out, because each year, the. Sheriff’s Department always held their ride the week before. Their toy ride starts at Hillcrest Square, which is the parking lot for the Laurens County Courthouse. Their 20 mile ride was scheduled to end at the Medlock- Simpson VFW Post 3354, which is just outside of Laurens. From what I could see, they had a truck full of toys.

The Christmas for the Children parade was a straight 16 mile shot down Highway 76 to Hillcrest Square. The route would take them through the middle of Clinton. As I rode down the road a few minutes before 2 p.m., people were already lining up along the road to see the motorcycles. Most of the children were waiting to see Santa. The Sheriff’s Cars led the way, and blocked the road, which made it safe for the riders. I was standing on the corner ready to take photos, when I saw a red corvette leading the group. I was wondering why there was a red convertible up front, so I squinted my eyes, and what do I see? An old man in a red hat and white beard, who was just laughing away. Apparently, Santa had traded his sled and eight reindeer for 400 horses.

Over the years, I’ve learned that the real Santa is not the one that comes on Christmas Eve, but the one that rides those big noisy bikes that everyone complains about. Most of these Santa’s start their ride, not on Christmas night, but a month before getting the toys to the kids. These Santa’s wear helmets and often have a white beard or a beard of many colors. The Sons of South is just one group of Santa’s helpers across the nation that helps Santa to find the kids who often fall below the NORAD Radar. These Guys and Gals make me proud to call myself a biker.