Almost 100 children attended the Buckner Toy Run on Saturday, Dec. 1, on the grounds of the Buckner Children’s Village in Beaumont when Buckner Children and Family Services hosted the yearly event for the boys and girls living at the facility.
“The children eagerly await this event each year,” said Laura May, administrator for Buckner Children and Family Services. “They will gather on the lawn early with anticipation as Santa Claus arrives with the Beaumont Fire Department and others who bring Christmas gifts and lots of fun with them.”
“That was our 22nd year,” Rhonda Robichau of Buckner Children and Family Services said. “It all started with Dwaine and Mary Ann Johnston. They are with the Trinity Travelers Chapter of the Christian Motorcyclists Association. …They contact the clubs that have offered to give in the past. Whether it is $25 per rider or a large sum per group, they raised a little over $13,000 and provided every child in our care with a $100 gift on a wish list, which our kids had no idea they were going to get, which made it really, really cool. Santa came and delivered them. For a lot of our kids, the holidays are bittersweet. They are removed from their homes because of abuse, neglect or abandonment, and so getting a gift like that of that value, or any gift, already makes them feel very, very special. When those people come out and spend the day with them, they’re just elated. They don’t have the opportunities typically, so it’s wonderful.”
Participants in the 2012 toy run included Trinity Travelers Chapter of the Christian Motorcyclists Association, Tri-City Corvette Club, Southern Hi-Rollers 4x4 Club of Houston, Cowboy Honda Red Riders, Half-Fast Riders and Star Touring & Riding of Highlands. Other supporters included Gold Crest Electric Company, Courville’s Catering, Richard Courville, Barnestormer Technologies, Karlins & Ramey LLC, Freedom Fellowship Church in Silsbee, Paul and Barbara Entrekin, Beaumont Fire Department, Jerry May and The Firehouse Band.
At the event, children not only received gifts from Santa and friends but also participated in events like the Mud Run where they rode in 4x4s across a muddy track. Some of the Jeeps and vehicles had their tops up and others had no doors or windshields for maximum mud exposure. The Beaumont Fire Department provided a fire truck to help muddy the track and to provide a station for folks to clean up after enjoying a free ride through the muck.
John Chaney of the Southern Hi-Rollers 4x4 Club of Houston said his club has been participating in the event almost since its inception.
“We have been doing this about 20 years,” Chaney said of the Buckner Toy Run. “We were invited to participate by the Trinity Travelers Chapter of the Christian Motorcyclists Association. We come out from Houston with our Jeeps and take the kids on a Mud Run. … Getting these guys to donate is not hard. They are great guys.”
Chaney said he has a lot of fun at the event and intends to participate in the years to come. His vehicle has no windows or doors so kids get totally covered in mud when riding with him. He said most children like it that way.
Robichau said that for many of the children, the Toy Run is the peak event of their year and lets the children know people care.
“It’s a really big annual tradition,” she explained. “The kids who have been there for a while tell the new kids when they’re sad, ‘Just hang in there, the Toy Run’s coming.’ It’s just got to be one of the highlights that the kids get to enjoy. And a lot of our kids don’t get to be kids. They’re adolescence has been stolen from them. So when they get to play and just really be a kid for a day, it’s just amazing to watch that happen. Events like this help us tremendously in reaffirming to the children that they do matter and that they have value and worth.”
Robichau said the event was a success, and the children loved their gifts. She said she is thankful for everyone in the community who helped make the event possible and hopes next year is just as successful.