Hundreds of thousands of motorcyclists around the world are gearing up for the annual toy run season, delivering charity and goodwill to those who need it most.
The world’s first toy run was held in 1973 in LA by the San Fernando Valley Charter of the Hells Angels with a truck load of toys delivered to the Salvation Army.
The New York Times reported that residents were “terrified”. However, there were no gang fights and people soon saw the charity work they did. The idea quickly spread throughout the USA.
There is some dispute about the first toy run in Australia.
The Perth Bikers Charity Ride is claimed to be the first, starting in 1976. However, the Motorcycle Riders Association of Victoria, the Newcastle Bikes for Kids and Downs Motorcycle Sporting Club also claim they were first with toy runs in 1978.
Does it really matter who was first? It seems Australia was at least fairly quickly on to the idea after it was started by a known “outlaw” club!
The biggest seems to have been the MRA Toy Run in Melbourne in 1996 which attracted more than 18,000 bikes and brought the city to a halt.
There are now more than 50 toy runs all over the country organised by motorcycle clubs and rider representative groups including branches of the Motorcycle Riders Association, Australian Motorcycle Council, Ulysses Club, Harley Owners Group and many others.
Toy runs take a variety of donations, but check first with your toy run as some don’t accept wrapped gifts, fluffy toys or food.
Most toy runs have prizes for the best-dressed motorcycles, but make sure your decorations do not make the bike unroadworthy!
The following is a short list of toy runs we know of. There are bound to be more and some have already been held. Check your local motorcycle club for more details.
Aussie Toy Runs
The 39th annual Melbourne Motorcycle and Classic Car Toy Run staged by the Victorian Motorcycle Council is on December 18 at Tabcorp Park, Melton, in aid of the Salvation Army.
The third annual Independent Riders Group Father Bob Toy Run from Victoria Park on Sunday (December 11) is expecting around 2000. Money, food and toys go to the Father Bob Foundation.
Bairnsdale’s Toy Run is on Sunday, December 11, from Bunnings at 10am to aid the Salvos.
Geelong’s Toy Run is on December 11, from the Deakin Carpark, corner Cavendish St and Western Beach Rd at 10am. The HOG run aids the local hospital children’s word and other local charities.
The MRA ACT Toy Run will be held on December 10, leaving from Old Parliament House at 10am with egg and bacon rolls and coffee for breakfast from 8.30am. Toys and donations will be given to the Salvation Army and St John’s Care.
Bikers Australia’s Sydney Toy Run will be held on Sunday, December 11, from 8.30am at the New Victoria Tavern, Wetherill Park. Donations to Westmead Children’s Hospital.
Kings Cross Bikers Toy Run is on Sunday, December 18, from 10am at the Wayside Chapel, Hughes St. Bring hospital patient supplies such as socks, deodorant, toothpaste and gifts for patients and staff at the Wayside Chapel, St Vincents Hospital, Sacred Heart Hospice and Lakemba MS Residential.
Ulysses Club of Lockyer holds its Ipswich Toy Run on Sunday, December 11, at the Brassall Shopping Centre from 8am to aid the Salvos and the Ulysses Club Arthritis Research Fund.
Toowoomba Toy Run held by the Downs Motorcycle Sporting Club is on Sunday December 18 at Picnic Point from noon. There are various rides from around the region to the starting point. Donations aids the St Vincent de Paul Society of Toowoomba and the Toowoomba Hospital Foundation.
Motorcycle Riders Association of South Australia holds their Toy Run on December 11, from the Clipsal Track at 11am. Donations of toys and gifts are distributed to families in need by St Vincent de Paul.
Collie Motorcyclists Charity Ride is on Saturday, December 10, from 9am at the Tourist Information Centre with donations to the local Combined Churches Christmas Appeal.