Meeting the ever-increasing demand for the program won’t get any easier in 2012 at the “Wheels of Faith” motorcycle ministry, which had organized the toy run for the first 10 years.
Former Wheels of Faith president Ronnie Lawson said the group was unable to find enough volunteers to continue. But he encourages everyone, including past members, to participate in Saturday’s event and support “a worthy cause.”
This year the toy run event is being organized by the “Christmas for the Children” organization itself.
The route is being slightly expanded this year to pick up Kingsport riders before heading back to Rogersville. Flyers detailing the route will be available at all Tri-Cities bike shops.
The ride leaves Rogersville at noon Saturday, arrives to pick up riders in Church Hill at 12:45, and then picks up Tri-Cities riders at the MeadowView Conference Resort and Convention Center in Kingsport at 1:15 p.m.
In hopes of attracting more bikers, the ministry this year contacted Dr. Vic Young, who is pastor of the Fountain of Life Bible Church motorcycle ministry in Johnson City.
Young agreed to organize an effort for Johnson City bikers to meet at the church on Julie Lane and leave at 12:45 p.m. to join Sullivan and Hawkins riders at MeadowView’s lower parking lot.
“We’ve had more than 200 motorcycles participate in years past with upwards of 300 participants, which has become a major fund-raiser to get the Christmas program for Hawkins County started,” said Christmas for the Children Director Patsy Hurd. “We can’t just let it drop.”
Hurd said children in the service area of the ministry — in both Hawkins and Hancock counties — are from some of the lowest income families in the region.
She said it is not uncommon to find families who still live without inside bathrooms and some homes still don’t have water.
“The ministry is committed to continuing this great event,” Hurd added. “Bikers will be fed once they get back to Rogersville with a short program and a concert by (gospel group) Modern Day Psalms.”
Christmas for the Children serves about 850 children every year in Hawkins County alone. The average expenditure per child in the past has been about $50. The program also provides Christmas meals for families and last year provided 1,350 families a box containing everything needed to provide a traditional Christmas dinner.
For more information about the toy run or qualifying for the program call Of One Accord at (423) 272-0772.