Motorcyclists will ride this Saturday with unwrapped toys to benefit Unity Shop Christmas Cheer, a local charity organization, in its 14th annual toy run.
The Harley Owners Group (HOG) will kick off the toy run at 10:45 a.m. with a motorcycle procession from Santa Claus Lane in Carpinteria to Oak Park on State Street. The event, co-hosted by American Brotherhood Aimed Towards Education (ABATE), began in 1986 to help raise funds for the Unity Shop Christmas Cheer, a non-profit organization which helps low-income families, children and the elderly year- round. Last year, the event collected $15,000 and two truckloads of toys.
Unity Shop President Barbara Tellefson said the program allows low-income families to shop for free toys during the holiday season.
“There is nothing like this program in the country. This program encourages the community to work together in a more consistent and daily effort with dignity,” she said. “This is really an ideal way to help the people of Santa Barbara, Goleta, Isla Vista and Carpinteria and others when they can’t find help in their community.”
ABATE President Loren Manes said he is optimistic that with good weather this year’s attendance will match last year’s turnout of over 700 people.
“This is the big social event of the year and all are invited. People are coming to ride from as far as San Bernardino and even from Santa Cruz. The president of the toy run’s public relations committee – Tim Putz – has been riding for five years in order to benefit the Unity Shop,” Manes said. “This is how I feel I give to the community; I have participated in the toy run since 1993.”
Putz said the program is unique because it allows individuals to choose their own gift.
“The Christmas Unity Shop is probably one of the finer uses of donations for distribution within the community,” Putz said. “Being able to choose is what makes it so good. This is one of the more fun events of the holiday season.”
Sign-in starts at 9 a.m. and ends at 10:30 a.m. on Santa Claus Lane. Participation will cost $20. Those attending should bring an unwrapped toy. The ride info line can be contacted at (805) 684-9655.