A successful Marion County Toy Run kicks off the season of holiday giving

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Now in its 18th year, the Marion County Toy Run on Saturday brought familiar images to Hillsboro?s Main Street.

Thanks to the efforts of many businesses and individuals, Marion County?s disadvantaged children will not be forgotten this Christmas season.

Marion County Toy Run officials said Saturday?s event, now in its 18th year, is shaping up to be another successful drive.

Tom Koslowsky, treasurer of the Sons of the American Legion, said Monday even though participation was down?69 motorcycle riders compared to 112 last year?the amount of toys, cash donations and donated bicycles is close or better than a year ago.

Koslowsky said one reason the numbers might have been lower was because Abilene scheduled its toy run for the same weekend.

Even so, Koslowsky said the dollar amount will be comparable to the past few years.

 

?Looks like (in 2010) a total of $10,800 was divided between Marion County communities, but this year it could possibly be more,? he said.

?We did notice that several riders brought more than one toy (to the collection point),? he said, ?and we have 20 bicycles donated. Last year we had 14.?

Joining to the Sons of the American Legion as sponsors of the local toy run are Route 56 Classic Cruisers and Abate of Kansas District 9, which is a nationwide organization to include McPherson.

After leaving Marion, the motorcycles and classic cars ended up at Hillsboro State Bank, which serves as a collection point for the toys.

It?s about children

Cynthia Fleming, president of Hillsboro State Bank, said she also noticed the numbers of participants were down, but that didn?t dampen anyone?s spirits.

?I think the toy run is great,? she said. ?The participants are very generous, which makes for a nice Christmas for many children, who may not otherwise have much of a Christmas.?

Koslowsky also affirmed the generosity of everyone involved.

?We do take donations before the toy run,? he said, ?and this year that was almost $5,000.?

Money is also raised by selling Marion County Toy Run T-shirts and buttons.

Once the toys are dropped off at the bank, participants gathered for a chili feed and auction at the American Legion in Hillsboro, which is why it is difficult to know the exact amount of the money collected.

By early December, Koslow?sky said, the three sponsors will hand out checks to charitable local organizations for distribution in Marion County communities.

The money is divided basically by school districts, he said. In Hillsboro, proceeds help children in this city as well as Durham and Lehigh.

Money for Peabody would also include Burns, Marion would include Centre and Florence, and Goessel primarily covers its own area.

?All we ask is that the ministerial alliances in turn help out families with children needing groceries, help pay heating bills or whatever will help children,? Koslowsky said.

The hundreds of toys collected Saturday will soon be divided among the Christmas trees in the other communities.

Participants

This year?s motorcyclists, Koslowsky said, came from Marion, Hillsboro, McPherson, Wichita, Emporia and other areas in and around Marion County.

John O. Dalke, in the role of Santa Claus this year, was transported to the collection site by fire truck, he said.

?(The toy run) is a wonderful deal and is one of the major fundraisers that has been specifically directed for kids,? Koslowsky said.

Initially, the event was modeled after ?Toys for Tots,? he said, and the first year the group raised about $500.

?We have grown a lot from there and it?s thanks to everyone contributing,? he said.

Koslowsky said people can still contribute. Checks may be made payable to the Marion County Toy Run and sent to the American Legion, 405 Floral Drive, Hillsboro, KS 67063.

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