By Mark Dreger
Motorcycle enthusiasts—including Santa Claus—gathered at McCurdy Corner Sunday morning to take part in the Kelowna Toy Run to help kids and families in need.
Riders enjoyed breakfast and conversation with like-minded riders while others looked at the large display of bikes from sport bikes and cruisers, to touring bikes and Can-am Spiders.
“This is the single largest contributing event to the Salvation Army’s Christmas Toy Hamper Program,” said Brendan Buttler, who has been the event organizer for the last six years. “We had last year probably around $5,000 worth of stuff that we donated to the Salvation Army between stuff collected here and cash stuff I bought in the fall.”
Every year the Salvation Army serves hundreds of families that need help at Christmas time, with over 500 families registered last year and over 1,100 toys given away.
“I’ve got two little kids and every Christmas I look at the smiles on their faces when they get their presents and I couldn’t imagine other kids not having that, and that’s what keeps me doing this year to year,” Buttler said.
Dave Ford, a retired Kelowna resident who rides a red Spider, took part in his first Kelowna Toy Run event to gather with others for the cause.
“We’re here gathered for a common cause; good people getting together to help those in need,” Ford said. “That’s a good enough reason to get together.”
Ford worked in the military and did toy drives for military families and is happy to see the Salvation Army doing terrific work reaching far and wide for families in need.
“I was fortunate enough to have [toys] while I was a kid, therefore it’s my turn to give back,” he said.
With Christmas soon approaching, complications sometimes strike that leads to families needing help.
“There was a family three years ago that about a week before Christmas their house got broken into in Kelowna here and robbed and all their Christmas toys got stolen,” Buttler said. “I got in contact with her and found out what stuff her kids wanted for Christmas and I went out and I bought the stuff , delivered it over to her house, and watching her breakdown in tears in her living room saying to her kids, ‘I told you guys there are angels out there.’ Little things like that keep me doing this every year.”
Since the event began in 1985, the Kelowna Toy Run is one of the major donation of toys to The Salvation Army with over 500 toys brought to their warehouse last year.