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No surprise: Salvation Army Toy Run an overwhelming success in spite of COVID-19 restrictions

Changes to event make little difference as hundreds of motorcyclists take part, drop off Christmas gifts for children at Moose Jaw Salvation Army church
It should come as no surprise that even with all the changes that were put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Salvation Army Toy Run was once again an overwhelming success in Moose Jaw.

Simply put, that’s just the way this city is.

Hundreds of motorcyclists riding everything from dirt bikes to three-wheel cruisers, Harleys to Hondas and everything in between took part in the annual event on Saturday afternoon, working through a host of changes to donate — yet again — a mountain of Christmas gifts for children.

“It’s a sense of being overwhelmed,” said Lester Ward with the Salvation Army, who arrived in Moose Jaw with spouse Aleta Ward five weeks ago as new ministers for the Moose Jaw and Assiniboia areas.

“When we see the bikes arriving in the parking lot, and they get off and have the opportunity to lay a toy here for someone who may need it for Christmas, it almost brings tears to your eyes for that connection that people have to something like this.”

That experience could have been enhanced even more if this was a normal year — hundreds of riders arriving in a massive wave and hanging around afterwards to visit and have coffee. To say it’s a spectacle isn’t doing it justice.

This year, the Moose Jaw Cycle Association made a host of changes because of the pandemic, with the focus on keeping everyone safe.

Riders still rode Main Street — and were cheered on by onlookers — but not in the huge procession departing Manitoba Street. Once they arrived at the Salvation Army church, it was a curbside drop-and-go, with masks and social distancing encouraged as much as possible.

And yet, the pile of toys was large as it always is, with riders showing up over designated hour to do their part for charity.

“We’re very early in our time here in Moose Jaw, but we can sense and feel the giving spirit of the beautiful people here in Moose Jaw,” Ward said. “Everyone is wanting to contribute, either through a donation or a toy, for those who are experiencing difficult times in the Christmas season. And as the Salvation Army we’re glad to be a part of that journey.

“We’re looking to help those who otherwise might not have a chance to experience Christmas the way it’s meant to be, expressing the love of Jesus and to experience that there’s hope and love and people who care about them.”

Those who feel they may need assistance this Christmas can connect with the Salvation Army Community and Family Services office downtown at 175 First Ave N.E.. Once registered, their applications will be reviewed and those accepted will be helped based on their need, whether it’s toys from Toy Run or even hampers for Christmas dinner.

“It’s a process we go through to make sure everyone is treated well and try to meet the needs of as many people as possible,” Ward said.

For up-to-date information on the Salvation Army in Moose Jaw, be sure to check out their Facebook page by clicking here.