Toy Run organizers look to help county children

 By Kay Braddock

Bikers and church ladies are two groups not typically associated together - that is unless you’re talking Christmas, toys and children.
A collaborative effort, between members of the Lower Yellowstone American Bikers Aiming Towards Education (LY ABATE) and members of the Break Forth Bible Church in Glendive, is helping to make area children’s Christmas season just a little more merry.
It’s a project LY ABATE Deputy Coordinator Jackson Dion says the two groups have been undertaking for the past 14 years and one he hopes will extend into surrounding communities like Fallon and Terry.
“It’s time to come over here,” Dion said, who lives west of Terry and has acted as deputy coordinator for the LY ABATE chapter for the past four years. 
After LY ABATE members gather donations from local businesses and individuals, the group then spends an afternoon shopping at Glendive’s K-MART store, where employee discounts are offered to help with the project. 
This year’s donations added up to a little over $4,500. Most were collected from Glendive individuals and businesses.
“I was pleasantly surprised this year,” Dion said of the fundraising effort, noting the current economic climate drew some concern that people wouldn’t be as willing to give. 
They were – with gifts totaling to “three entire pick-up loads of toys.” 
The shopping is the fun part, Dion said, adding, “(we) hand out shopping carts to everybody and say, ‘go to town.’ ” 
He pointed out that many members include their children in on the shopping venture, telling the children to shop for things that they would want. 
“I think it teaches them a good lesson,” Dion said.
The toys, ranging from those for infants to teenagers, are then delivered to the Break Forth Bible Church where church ladies … and gents … wrap them. The church group delivers the gifts to children on Christmas Eve.
The LY ABATE chapter includes 212 members. Statewide there are 333 ABATE members. The non-profit nationwide organization is dedicated to promoting safe operating motorcycle practices. 
Many of LY ABATE members live in other states but have enrolled in the LY ABATE chapter, Dion noted.  
Other projects the chapter is involved with include a rider course and the emergency bystander class. But the seasonal Toy Run has become a favored and rewarding event. 
Dion agrees that providing practical gifts is important and noted many groups are fulfilling those needs, but says toys for children can be just as necessary.
“Everybody needs warm clothes, we understand that,” Dion said, adding, “but there’s nothing like giving kids toys.”
NOTE: If you know of a family who could benefit from Toy Run gifts please call Jackson Dion at (406) 989-0860.

Published Dec. 16, 2009

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