Toys for Tots a roaring success

T hree local organizations got a big jump on their Christmas shopping this weekend as they came together to raise a couple of thousand dollars for a local charity that provides toys to underserved children during the holidays.

The Sons of the American Legion Squadron 83, the Leathernecks Motorcycle Club, and McDermott’s Harley Davidson organized the first-ever Toys for Tots motorcycle ride on Saturday, May 12.

The three groups, all of whom have supported the Toys for Tots program in the past, banded together in support of the train.

“Basically we’re a bunch of motorcyclist enthusiasts who decided we’d do something to help,” said Ed Nelson, a retired major in the Marine Corps.

Approximately 200 people on about 140 motorcycles turned out for the inaugural event.

Participants met at McDermott’s Harley Davidson in Fort Ann and hit the road at noon under a warm, clear Monday afternoon.

The procession traveled north into Whitehall and on to Ticonderoga where they raised a flag in honor of a young Marine killed in the line of duty in Afghanistan.

Afterwards they returned south where they stopped at the American Legion to enjoy lunch and music, courtesy of the Sons who grilled several hundred hotdogs and hamburgers.

Although the event has dozens of corporate sponsors, local organizers wanted to augment those efforts. Organizers estimate they raised nearly $4,000 and the proceeds are expected to support events in the local area.

The Toys for Tots program started 14 years ago and was organized by the Marines of Fox Company, the Canadian Pacific Railroad and over the years grew to include a number of local organizations that help support the effort, including the Whitehall American Legion.

“We delivered 1,000 toys that first year and the event has grown to the point where we delivered 30,000 toys last year, said Nelson.

The train starts in Binghamton and ends in Rouse’s Point with dozens of stop in between.

Last year’s event in Whitehall was the biggest ever, and approximately 210 children were given toys.

“It’s not too bad for the first time. It went really well,” said Richard Martel, commander of the Sons of the American Legion. “We’re hoping to make this an annual event.”

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