ELDRIDGE — Santa Claus and over 1,000 bikers will make their way to Eldridge this Saturday for the 16th annual Eldridge Toy Run to benefit the town's Free Will Baptist Children's Home.The toy run …
ELDRIDGE — Santa Claus and over 1,000 bikers will make their way to Eldridge this Saturday for the 16th annual Eldridge Toy Run to benefit the town's Free Will Baptist Children's Home.
The toy run is traditionally held on the first Saturday of December and brings bikers from Alabama, Mississippi and other states to Eldridge — all of whom make donations to sustain the Children's Home.
According to the Free Will Baptist Children's Home website, the residential ministry provides a safe haven for children who are victims of abuse or have dealt with a family crisis.
Mississippi resident Phil Frye, who is involved with the Eldridge Toy Run event, said the event began when a man in Mississippi learned of the Eldridge Children's Home and wanted to do a toy run to benefit the facility. Fast forward 16 years and the event has brought bikers from over 1,000 miles away raised well over $1 million for the home.
Frye said there are 20 coordinators for the toy run across Alabama and Mississippi, and organized motorcycle groups and individuals travel to Eldridge each December with gift cards and donations for the cause.
The large group of motorcycle and antique car enthusiasts form the Eldridge Benefit Team that not only helps the Children's Home monetarily, but also raises awareness about the facility.
Greg Clark, Steve Odom and Brenda Williams of Walker County help organize the Eldridge Toy Run each year by securing food from generous area businesses to feed those who attend the event.
Clark said the toy run is absolutely critical in helping the Children's Home continue services as it has since the 1940s.
"The Children's Home is the star of the show in this whole thing because they have been doing what they do since 1946," Clark said. "People should know that the Children's Home doesn't take any state or federal funding. No municipality helps pay their way. It's just donations from folks who know their work."
Just over 30 children currently live at the Children's Home. All money donated Saturday will be to feed, clothe and house the children; however, each child will also receive many Christmas gifts Saturday from Santa Claus, thanks to people who purchased items from their wishlists.
The program where toys are distributed will begin at noon Saturday at the Children's Home, located at 86 Academy Dr in Eldridge. Riders will arrive as early as 10:30 a.m.
Local riders can meet in Sumiton at the ALFA office near Walmart Saturday, with kickstands up at 10 a.m. Riders will then go to the next meeting spot at Parkland Shopping Center in Jasper, with kickstands up at 10:30 a.m. to head towards the Children's Home.
For more information about the ride to Eldridge, call (205) 275-8087, (205) 295-8250 or (205) 275-8961.
People who can't make it to the toy run Saturday may donate to the Eldridge Children's Home, P.O. Box 73, Eldridge, Alabama 35554. Donations are tax deductible.
Since 1947, the Children's Home has helped over 1,000 children from 6 to 18 years old in their darkest hour.
"There's a host of folks who, had it not been for the Eldridge Children's Home, there's no telling what would have happened to them," Clark said.
Last year's toy run raised over $100,000. Aside from the motorcycle ride and toy distribution, the event will also feature a car and motorcycle show.
More information about the event can be found by visiting www.eldridgetoyrun.com. There are also two Facebook pages for the event, Friends of Eldridge and Eldridge Toy Run.