Toy Run delivers gifts for the kids

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Hundreds of leather-clad motorcyclists carrying stuffed animals, games and other toys were greeted with smiles and waves from Hillsboro bystanders during the 17th annual Marion County Toy Run Saturday.

About 120 motorcycles roared down Main Street, stopping first at Hillsboro State Bank to drop off toys before heading on to the annual auction and chili feed at American Legion Post 366.

?We had a wonderful turnout (at the bank),? said Shelley Rooker, who coordinated the drive at HSB and served as clerk at the auction.

Organizers said they were also pleased with the number of supporters attending the auction.

?The riders spend their own money to buy the toys,? Rooker said.

The toys will stay at HSB until before Thanksgiving, then will be divided and distributed among the school districts of Marion County.

The annual chili feed and auction raises money so charitable organizations throughout the county can assist those in need and make the holidays brighter for children and families, one coordinator said.

In previous years, proceeds from the American Legion?s chili and auction have exceeded $10,000, but final totals and check disbursements will not be made until the first weekend in December, organizers said.

In addition to American Legion Post 366, other sponsors of the Marion County Toy Run are Route 56 Classic Cruisers and Abate of Kansas District 9.

Since the Toy Run began, more than $100,000 has been distributed for Marion County children.

Margo Yates, director of the Marion Chamber of Commerce, talked about the motorcyclists and what good stewards they are to the county.

?We cannot do what we do without those guys,? she said. ?In recent years with the economy on everyone?s mind, donations are getting cut back, and we are concerned this year that more people will be needing help.?

Yates said that somehow things always seem to work out.

?Last year,? she said, ?one woman was picking up her boxes of food and was reminded not to forget the bicycles for her kids.?

Yates said the mother, with tears in her eyes never thought she would be getting bicycles, too.

In Marion, anyone who would like to donate toward food boxes can do so by making checks payable to Community Christmas and sending them to: 203 N. Third St., Marion, KS 66861.

Families in Centre, Marion and Florence in need of assistance can submit names until Nov. 17.

In Hillsboro, Rooker said the bank offers a ?Giving Tree.? Anyone in the Hillsboro area needing assistance is asked to pick up applications at Hillsboro schools and churches.

The deadline for submitting names is Dec. 4.

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