Tires will roll on Sept. 9 for the 37th annual Santa Claus Fund Toy Run. The parade of motorcycles will be led by the big man himself, accompanied of course by Mrs. Claus.

“We have a lot of things happening,” says Heather McCaig, promotion director of the Toy Run and a teacher a Crescent Heights High School.

The event begins at 9 a.m. at the Irvine Hotel with a pancake breakfast by donation. The ride will kickoff at 11:30 a.m. with the parade expected to reach Medicine Hat by about noon. Motorcycles will make their way to the Stampede Grounds and spectators can watch along Dunmore Road.

Community members can come to Higdon Hall in the Cypress Centre. They are encouraged to bring new gifts in the form of toys for children of all ages. Cash donations will also be accepted, which will be used for grocery vouchers.

Refreshments will be present in the form of a barbecue where a minimum $5 donation can be exchanged for burger, chips and a cold drink. Students from CHHS will be working the food lines. There will also be beer gardens, a band and 50-50 tickets. Donations for the silent auction are still being sought out.

More 700 families and 1,200 children were helped by the Santa Claus Fund last year.

“We are expecting at least that many people in need this year if not more,” says McCaig.

All walks of life have come out to support the drive in the past. This has included young children to grandparents. McCaig expects no difference this year.

“It’s really neat to see the different motorcycles,” explains McCaig in regards to the appeal the parade has for onlookers and the varying interests they might have. Anywhere from 800-1,000 bikes are expected to ride into town that day.

“The kids love seeing the toys on backs of the bikes.”

Anyone interested in volunteering can call Deanna Doerksen, execute director of the Santa Claus Fund, at 403-528-9900. People who wish to make Toy Run donations ahead of time can contact Ivan Karsten at 403-580-0266. Anyone with a motorcycle who comes out to Irvine and is willing to carry donated items is eligible to join and participate in the run.

McCaig expresses that in difficult times when more families are forced to choose between Christmas presents or a roof over the heads for their children, they must choose the latter. She feels every kid deserves to have a special Christmas morning that shows they are cared for. This event is about making such sentiments a reality.

“Any little donation really goes a long way,” says McCaig. “It really does bring a community feeling to our city and that’s the whole point.”

By FERNANDO MORENO-PRADO, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Aug 18, 2023 at 12:28

This item reprinted with permission from   Medicine Hat News   Medicine Hat, Alberta
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