The Highway Hikers toy run to donate toys and money for the Salvation Army’s Holiday Toy Drive is this weekend, which supplies Christmas gifts for needy children in the area. Bill Lackey/Staff

Springfield Highway Hikers holiday toy run grows to 2,500 bikers

A local organization is preparing for one of the state’s largest toy run ahead of the holiday season.

The Salvation Army of Clark County is gearing up for the Highway Hikers Toy Run.

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It’s been 39 years since the toy run began. It started with just about seven bikes and this year about 2,500 motorcycles are expected, said Ryan Ray, resource development manager of the Salvation Army of Clark County.

Every year the run grows, he said, and he’s excited to see what this year brings.

“We get people from Florida, Michigan, Kentucky, Indiana, Tennessee, all over that want to be a part of this,” Ray said.

The Highway Hikers begin at 1 p.m. Sunday at the VFW in Medway and end at the Clark County Fairgrounds.

“All the bikes are strapped with toys and those toys will come to us the Salvation Army and they entrust those toys with us and we see to it they find great homes,” Ray said.

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The goal of the Salvation Army, Highway Hikers and people in the community is that no child wakes up Christmas morning to an empty Christmas tree, he said.

“It gives these kids an opportunity to wake up Christmas morning to some new toys where a lot of these kids throughout the year get thrown scraps or secondhand … So this is a chance for all of us in the community to join together and bless these kids on Christmas morning,” Ray said.

Last year’s run totaled close to $40,000. About 2,000 children will get two, new toys as part of the program.

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To receive toys for children, families must sign up and bring identification of all household residents to the Salvation Army at 15 S. Plum St.

Children 17 and younger are eligible to receive toys. Parents will later be given instructions on when and where to pick up the toys.

Ray asked for patience during the Highways Hikers Toy Run because it delays traffic. Traffic will likely be blocked along the route, which includes Lower Valley Pike and Main Street in Springfield, until 2 p.m. Sunday, according to the Clark County Sheriff’s Office.

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