Originally posted by Buck Lovell on Monday, 12 December 2011 in Buck Lovell's - American Biker Blog
TOYS FOR KIDS MOTORCYCLE RUN…ONE OF MANY NATIONWIDE
By Susan Abram photos by David Crane
Old St. Nick left his reindeer behind to straddle a steel hog on Sunday, when he led hundreds of bikers from Glendale to Los Angeles' Skid Row as part of the annual L.A. Toy Ride. Young children held a Mom or Dad's hand and stood in long lines around the streets of Fred Jordan Missions on Towne Avenue. Many small boys and girls waited for hours in the chilly morning, hoping to receive their very first bicycle. "It's amazing," said a wide-eyed Destiny Zamora, a 7-year-old from Los Angeles who inspected the rows of new two-wheelers of every size and color.
Destiny rode two buses with her grandmother Janeth Juarroz, for the chance to receive a shiny pink bike with sparkling tassels that hung from the handlebars. A toy Santa stands out as Harley-Davidson motorcycles are lined up to leave Glendale for the Fred Jordan Mission. Bikers gave away bicycles and other toys to needy families Sunday, Dec. 11, 2011 in the annual toy run. (David Crane/Los Angeles Daily News Staff Photographer)
"I saw this advertised on television last night," Janeth Juarroz said. "I just wanted her to have a chance to have a bicycle." Behind them were long tables piled high with stuffed teddy bears, Glamour Girls dolls, basketballs, and Tonka trucks. But none of those interested Destiny as much as that small, pink bicycle. An hour later, leather clad bikers applauded as Destiny's wish came true. The event is the traditional kickoff to Christmas and holiday activities at the mission, which feeds nearly 1,000 people a day and where volunteers and others work to help men, women and children in need, said Peter Jordan, mission director and son of the late Fred Jordan, who founded the mission in 1944.
"All the toys come from bikers from clubs all over the state," Jordan said. "They really care about kids and many of these kids wouldn't have Christmas if it wasn't for events like this." At least 2,000 bikers, members of various clubs such as the Boozefighters, the Saints, the Prophets, and the Mongols, rode from as far as Ventura and Riverside counties with toys in hand. The Vagos motorcycle club donated and put together many of the bicycles. "It means a lot for us to be here," said one Vagos member who identified himself only as Brett. "We like the look on the kids faces when we roll up with all the toys."
"To me, it's all about the kids," said another Vagos member who called himself Lil' Sean. "Any chance we get to cast a different face on our clubs, we'll take." As children pedaled away on new bikes with smiles on their faces or hugged a stuffed unicorn or teddy bear, tough hearted bikers wilted with emotion, patting each other on the back or exchanging fist pumps at a job well done. "That's what it's all about, man," one tall, bearded biker said to another. Rachel Buitrago rode in with at least 20 of her family members and friends from Whittier. She's not part of a club, but said she looks forward to the event each year. "I think bikers have a negative perception," she said. "People don't think they have big hearts, but they do." She said the event was all about giving.
"I have four kids. I can't give them the world but I'm able to give them something. This event is about giving to children who may not have anything." Santa Claus, who goes by the name Parts Vancil and is a member of motorcycle club from St. Louis, said he flew out especially for the Toy Drive.
"It's just priceless," he said of the children's expressions when they receive a toy. As they have done for years, hundreds of bikers rode out from Harley-Davidson of Glendale. The L.A. Toy Drive is sponsored by the Golden State Harley Owners Group or HOG. Some children and their families wait for more than a day in line, hoping for a new toy for Christmas. Maria Gutierrez, 16, was at the start of the line, where she had waited since 9 a.m. Saturday. She said she wanted the younger children in her family to receive a toy, but she didn't want anything special for herself. "I would be happy with anything," she. Next Saturday, Fred Jordan Missions hold another big event for children and their families that will include food giveaways. "We're short about 2,500 toys," Jordan said, anticipating a larger crowd. Anyone who wishes to donate a new, unwrapped toy can go to fjm.org, he said.