The Prince Rupert Harley Riders Club made a massive donation to ensure all children have something to open on Christmas morning.
The club raised $10,000 and collected 617 toys from the 32nd annual Toy Run event that took place in October, which was donated to the Prince Rupert Salvation Army for its Christmas Hamper Program on Friday.
“We came to our goal. It took us an extra month, but we did good,” said Norm Sklapsky, president of the Prince Rupert Harley Riders.
“For 32 years the Harley Riders have been collecting toys and cash to help us with our Christmas program. This year has been phenomenal, with over 600 toys and another $10,000. It’s such a huge help,” Capt. Gary Sheils of the Prince Rupert Salvation Army said.
The funds were raised from ticket sales for the Toy Run dance in October, liquor sales at the dance, donation jars in Prince Rupert and Port Edward and donations from businesses and individuals.
A major money raiser comes from Toy Run T-shirt sales, with Donna Wing spearheading the efforts for the last number of years along with Sklapsky.
The Toy Run collects toys by requiring people attending the dance to donate some kind of toy along with the cost of their ticket.
“People want to give when they know it’s going to children. After 32 years being involved in the community … people want to donate because they know it’s going to a good cause,” Sklapsky said.
“We’re a group of honest people that want to help children and the community.”
Sklapsky said the club holds the annual fundraising event for underprivileged children in Prince Rupert and Port Edward, who may not have presents to open on Christmas morning otherwise.
Sklapsky said there tends to be a lot of parents in smaller communities with alcohol or drug abuse issues.
“Sometimes kids parent’s are out there, and the kids don’t get anything for Christmas. We do this for them.”
Sklapsky has been the main organizer of the event for the past five years, taking over the responsibility after long-time president Mark Desautels (Dezi) passed away.
“My goal the first year after Mark died was to raise $10,000 and have one of our biggest fundraisers ever to honour him,” said Sklapsky, who was successful in his goal.
“I thought if I could do it the first year, I should be able to do it every year.”
Since being president of the club Sklapsky has done just that, helping to raise $50,000 in five years.
Chris Rose will be taking over the role of club president next year, with Sklapsky explaining he needs a year off.
“If he wants to carry on after one year that’s great. If not, I’m willing to take over again,” said Rose.
Capt. Sheils expects the Salvation Army will serve 850 families as part of this year’s Christmas Hamper Program, with 1,200 to 1,300 children being in those families.