“Retired old guys having fun on bikes,” is how director Roy Colmer describes the annual Okanagan Motorcycle Riders Association (OMRA) South Okanagan Toy Run.
Sunday, Sept. 18 is the 29th running of the ride to help the Christmas hamper efforts of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul for 400 needy families throughout the region.
“This is just so very important to us and they (OMRA) have been very generous,” said society member Sharon Snow, who has been involved with the run for over 20 years. “There are about 200 children this helps and it is such a very important thing for the kids. You can imagine a little one on Christmas morning with nothing to open. It would be pretty rough and I think we would have a very hard time doing this without the help of the motorcycle riders.”
At Christmas the society puts together a special hamper for registered families which includes a holiday dinner and other necessities and where needed, some toys.
While the children don’t see their gifts when the families get the hampers, Snow said their excitement is very evident on pickup day.
“Lots of times you see the children when you take the hampers and they’re just so overjoyed, they’ll grab the juice and the cereal and just be so excited,” she said. “You know they haven’t had very much and it’s been a struggle.”
She added many of those helped are working parents who are just unable to make ends meet.
“And it’s not getting any better,” said Snow. “I’m always amazed at the resourcefulness of moms and dads, how they make every penny count and stretch their grocery bill as much as they can. They are an amazing group and I can’t say enough nice things about them.”
Last year OMRA was able to raise just over $2,300 in addition to the nearly 300 donated toys.
“We’re proud of that and every year it gets bigger,” said Colmer who estimated as many of 100 bikes make the journey. “It’s so contagious, charity work, giving back to the community and I think I get more joy out of it than the people we help out. Boy I feel so good when you know that you’re helping people when they need it and Christmas time is a great time to do that and that’s why this toy run has been going for 29 years
“We know the families who are the receivers of our efforts really do need this and the children are our future.”
Participants meet at the Peach area at Rotary Park on Lakeshore Drive at 9 a.m. for the Lions Club breakfast and will hit the road at 10 a.m.
There will be several toy stops to pick up donated items, the first at Summerland Secondary School at 10:15 a.m., followed by another at 11:30 a.m. at the Oliver Place Mall and the final one at the Okanagan Falls IGA
at 12:15 p.m. Riders will return to Rotary Park for the Lions Club lunch around 1:30 p.m. At that time there will also be door prizes, toonie auctions and 50/50 Draw. All proceeds and toys will go to St. Vincent de Paul Society. Any and all bikes are welcome and for more information contact Roy Colmer at 250-809-4757.