Anytime the Salvation Army in Moose Jaw has new leaders take over, one of the highlights of their arrival is seeing their reaction to the Salvation Army Toy Run.
Awe, disbelief and amazement is how it usually goes, and that was no exception for Maj. Clarence Ingram during the 35th annual edition of the event on Saturday afternoon.
The usual hundred-plus riders took part in the Toy Run under sunny and warm conditions, bringing hundreds of toys that will act as presents for those in need this Christmas.
“This is my first one and isn’t this awesome?” Ingram said with a tone of amazement as riders milled around the Salvation Army citadel parking lot on Thatcher Drive. “Look at all the bikes that are here, all these people, and look at this mound of toys. Wow, Christmas is starting early!”
While seeing that kind of support isn’t a surprise in any way for regular onlookers, that doesn’t change the importance of the event and just how much it means to the Salvation Army and those it supports.
“It’s just amazing to see this giant parade of motorcyclists come here and doing this, “said Ingram, who arrived in Moose Jaw with wife Maj. Karen Ingram in August. “Sometimes motorcyclists have a bad reputation, but this is a good thing and it gives you a much brighter picture and real picture of these guys. They’re looking out for their community and the underprivileged, and how many kids are going to have a smile on their face this Christmas because of this?”
One unique aspect of this year’s event was how the ride’s route worked -- in the past, it was a simple ride up Main Street to Thatcher and then on to the Salvation Army, This time around, riders made their way through the Little Chicago Car Show that was taking place on Main Street, parading through the thousands of fans taking in that event and offering a new look to an already popular event.
All the gathered toys will be put to use as part of the Salvation Army’s Christmas store..
“At Christmas time, we’ll set up a toy store in the church here, and the families in need can come and shop for their children, pick up the toys free of charge and take them home and wrap them for Christmas,” Ingram explained.
Needless to say, being part of such a venture and seeing the kind of support it has is heartwarming for all involved.
“It’s just so inspiring to see how the community gathers around this,” Ingram said of the Moose Jaw Cycle Association venture. “We say sometimes that there’s an army behind the Salvation Army, and this time it’s an army of motorcyclists. They’re behind us because we can’t do this without all these people and they make all the difference in the world. This is really what it’s all about.”
The next major toy-gathering event will take place at the beginning of December when the Moose Jaw Warriors hold their annual Teddy Bear Toss. That, too, brings in hundreds of toys and further bolsters what the Salvation Army will be able to offer.
“We hope everyone goes out and supports that event, too, because Christmas morning, we want all the kids to have a smile on their face,” Ingram said.