Toys for Tots drops drive, Clark County looks to meet holiday demand

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

The Highway Hikers are having their annual Toy Run.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

The Highway Hiker’s Toy Run will roar through Clark County on Sunday, the annual event that kicks off the Christmas toy drive for the Salvation Army of Springfield.

This year the drive will have to serve about 1,000 more children than it did in 2015, Ryan Ray of the Salvation Army said, because the local Toys for Tots campaign isn’t running.

“If the community didn’t pull together, these kids would have an empty tree Christmas morning, and that’s just unacceptable,” Ray said.

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The Salvation Army expects to collect toys for more than 3,000 children this year, Ray said. Each child in the program receives two new toys, along with clothing and stockings for Christmas.

Sunday will be the 37th year the Highway Hikers kick off the Salvation Army drive.

“It’s all about the kids,” Highway Hiker’s President Lloyd “Deadbolt” Lucas said. “A lot of us come from families of hard times, and it’s really an honor and a privilege to give back to the kids in a community.”

The run begins at 1 p.m. at the Medway VFW, 1587 Lake Road, and will head east on Ohio 4 to Main Street in Springfield, and onward to Bird Road and South Charleston Pike to end at the fairgrounds.

Law enforcement has warned that the continuous line of bikers could delay traffic along the route until 2 p.m.

More than 2,100 bikers from across Clark County, Ohio, Kentucky and other surrounding states rode in the toy run last year, Lucas said. They expect even more this year.

The Salvation Army needs all the help they can get from the Hikers, Ray said.

“We can’t even fathom doing this without them, we couldn’t,” he said.

With even more children to serve this holiday season, Ray said he hopes the community pitches in to make the children’s Christmases memorable.

The local Toys 4 Tots in Clark County has been run by Detachment 963 of the Marine Corps League since 1998. The group had to put their drive on hold this year, Detachment Commandant John Campbell said.

“We had a coordinator who was doing the work and everything was all set to go and at the last minute they backed out,” he said.

The Toys 4 Tots collection should be back next year, Campbell said.

Highway Hikers started its Toy Run in 1978, said original member Howard “Gordo” Taylor. That first year they collected the toys in a pickup truck.

“Now we’ve graduated to semi-trailers full of toys for the kids of Clark County and we only want to grow and get bigger and get more,” Taylor said.

From Oct. 24 to Oct. 27 families can sign up for Christmas assistance at the Salvation Army office, 15 S. Plum St., from 9 a.m to 1 p.m. On Oct. 28 sign-ups will be from 2 to 6 p.m. at the office.

People who normally receive help from Toys 4 Tots should be aware that the sign-ups for Salvation Army end earlier than Toys 4 Tots typically does, Ray stressed.

The Salvation Army strives to help families who are in need so they don’t worry about the financial burden of the holidays, he said.

“It’s a burden taken off of their back,” he said.

Anyone with questions about the program can call the Salvation Army at 937-322-3434.

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