Motorcyclists revving up for holiday-toy runs
STUTTGART, Germany — Motorcycle enthusiasts stationed at American military bases in Europe are gearing up for annual Christmas toy runs to local hospitals.
“It’s one of the nice things about the season,” said Cheryl Smith, secretary for the Stuttgart Clan of Motorcyclists, which is planning its annual toy run in the Stuttgart community.
Smith, who works for the U.S. European Command and rides a Harley-Davidson, said the motorcycle club, which also has local German members, will team with the United Service Organizations and B.O.S.S., a service organization for single military personnel.
“It’s a way to give back to the German community,” she said.
The Stuttgart bikers, who numbered only about 10 last year due to freezing temperatures, will go to several hospitals on Dec. 13 to deliver donated gifts to the children.
Some of the riders will carry toys on their bikes but most presents will be carried in a pickup truck. One biker will wear a red suit and beard and play Santa, but everyone will distribute the presents.
Motorcycle clubs in other American military communities are launching similar projects.
The Protectors Motorcycle Friends Group from the Bamberg area is getting ready to start rustling up gifts for its December toy run.
Harley-Riders around Spangdahlem are planning a toy drive, too.
“I think there’s something about this image of this biker with leathers and a helmet and the beard, mixed with giving gifts to kids, that brings a smile,” said Marty Bishop, who is part of a group of riders from Spangdahlem that will distribute toys.
“We should be able to get a couple hundred toys handed out.”
In Stuttgart, Smith said that over the next several weeks, collection points for toy donations will be announced. She said riders will meet the day of the run and wrap the gifts with other volunteers.
All types of gifts for boys and girls from ages 3 to 15 are needed, but the biggest need is presents for the teenage boys, she said.
Appropriate donated items for the boys would be things like LEGOs or model kits, she said.