LEBANON — A convoy of motorcycles paraded from Walgreens to the River Center to transport Christmas toys for low-income families during the Road Maggots motorcycle group's toy run on Sunday afternoon.
The 10th annual event was held in honor of Road Maggot member "Milkman" Mike Hamer, who came up with the idea for the toy run, said fellow Road Maggot member Ray Jackman. Hamer died in 2013. The Road Maggots were joined by several other motorcycle groups.
Jackman said it is important to continue the toy run to help many community members have Christmas.
"There are people in this town who wouldn't have a Christmas otherwise," Jackman said.
Another community club, The American Street Masters car club, joined the Road Maggots by driving classic cars in the parade. The parade was followed by truckloads of toys people donated to the River Center for their annual Christmas Toys Program.
The Road Maggots and other community members helped unload the Christmas toys inside the center to be later distributed to families in need. There was a large pile of toys accumulating inside the center only 13 minutes after the parade started.
"There will be a mountain of toys and food,” said Lynn Koehn, River Center community outreach pastor. "There are families and children who are less fortunate than us. We have been given so much. This is a way for us to give that blessing back to the community"
River Center Associate Pastor Bob Elliott agreed with that sentiment.
Elliott said that it would be near impossible to count the total number of toys, or the exact value of the toys, because there were already so many toys donated (and donations will continue until Christmas) for the River Center's Christmas Toy Program.
Compared to last year’s toy drive, Elliott estimated that the center was at about 50 percent of their total accrued donations. Within the last week, donations had picked up.
"It's been delightful to see the compassionate support of the community," Elliott said. "We really value our relationship with the Road Maggots."
Those toys will go to local area families who put in an application with the River Center.
This year, seven residents from the Oregon Veterans' Home participated in the parade, said Rosemary Turnwall, veterans' home activities director.
The home also provided brownies for the public at the River Center.
"I just looked back in the bus, and saw tires and motorcycles as far as the eye could see," Turnwall said.
For more information about the River Center's Christmas Toy Program, visit http://www.therivercenter.net/christmas.