By Jim Buchanan
The 2019 Jackson County Toy Run is set to kick off on Saturday, Dec. 7.
The event is open to both motorcycles and cars; participants should gather in the Bojangles parking lot at 10 a.m. Kick stands go up at noon, and the Run will wind through Sylva and arrive shortly at its destination, Innovation Brewing in Dillsboro, after going through Sylva with a police escort.
There will be live music at Innovation from 1-2:30 p.m.
Those wanting to help but not wanting to participate in the Run can drop a new, unopened and unwrapped toy at Bojangles that day.
For the fifth year in a row, Hell On Wheels Motorcycle Club will partner with The Christmas Connection of Jackson County to organize the event. HOW is seeking sponsorships from local businesses, with proceeds going to The Christmas Connection and the local families they serve. Sponsors will be recognized on the official event T-shirt. Those seeking sponsorships are asked to contact Lisa Ford at 507-8971 or firstname.lastname@example.org by Nov. 29, although contributions will be accepted after that date.
Last year more than 100 volunteers helped with the event, which raised $2,750 and distributed 150 toys.
The Christmas Connection was created to provide Christmas for local children in need. The 501(c)(3) nonprofit is entirely volunteer-run, and serves children across the county.
Christmas Connection Coordinator Marilyn Chamberlin has participated in the project since 2014.
“Before it was the Christmas Store for 27 years,” she said. “Our family had been sponsors for children for about 14 years before that and so when the two women (Wanda Kidd and Elaine White) told us they were retiring we did not know who would provide the service in the future. My husband, Brian, our daughter, Sophie, and I decided that we would take over. In fact, it was Sophie who inspired us because she said, ‘You can’t let this program end.’
“We have served between 600 to 1,100 children depending on need in any given year,” she said. “We rely on the donations of people and organizations like Hell on Wheels MC, and all the donations go to the children as we have no paid staff. Everyone who works with Christmas Connection is a volunteer.”
To learn more go to christmasconnectionofjc.org.