By Brandon BieltzOctober 10, 2013
The government shutdown took a bite out of the festivities at Saturday's second annual Toys for Tots Motorcycle Run, but it didn't diminish the significance of the start of the 2013 campaign.
"The government shutdown cannot affect the spirit of caring and giving," said Garrison Commander Col. Brian P. Foley.
Nearly 100 motorcyclists participated in the charity event, which included a police-escorted motorcycle ride that ended at the Pavilion, lunch provided by Mission BBQ and music by Mad Planet.
The U.S. Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon was scheduled to perform at the conclusion of the ride, but due to the federal government shutdown, it had to cancel. Organizers said that despite the setback, they were pleased with the turnout.
"The main purpose was to be here for the kids," said Marine Capt. Pete Smith, head of the Anne Arundel County Toys for Tots program.
The event was the official kickoff of the annual Anne Arundel County Toys for Tots campaign, a Christmas toy drive sponsored by the Marine Corps. Last year, the campaign collected 100,000 gifts for less fortunate children in the area.
Bikers gathered at the First Christian Community Church of Annapolis to begin the 18-mile motorcycle ride to Fort Meade. To register for the ride, motorcyclists donated toys to the campaign.
Smith said the ride serves as a very public display of the start of the toy drive.
"The intent was to make the public aware that the Christmas season is getting ready to kick off, and the Toys for Tots effort is getting ready to kick off," he said. "Most of the folks who ride motorcycles care a lot about the military. They're patriotic.
"We wanted to use them as a means to get the word out. Bikers mean a lot to this community, and we asked for their help to help spread the word."
When the bikers arrived at the Pavilion, they dined on a free lunch catered by Mission BBQ to the music of Mad Planet, a local cover band.
In his brief remarks, Foley offered his support for the Toys for Tots campaign and thanked the bikers for participating in the kickoff.
With the 2013 Toys for Tots program officially underway, Smith said the campaign would begin collecting toys immediately and that he hopes to collect as many unwrapped toys as last year.
Individuals can donate a toy at one of the various collection sites throughout the area.
"We're going to have boxes all over the county," Smith said.
Editor's note: To find a donation location, go to toysfortots.org.