When Ron “Bumper” Herron put together the first Circle City Toy Run in 1994, he managed to gather a dozen or so friends and collect 22 toys for The Salvation Army’s Christmas Assistance program. Fast forward 20 years and the parking lot at The Salvation Army’s Indianapolis headquarters is filled with hundreds of bikes and toys are spilling from a trailer.
The Circle City Toy Run brings together two passions: motorcycles and giving back. Hundreds of bikers travel to Indianapolis, toys strapped to the back seats of their Harley Davidsons and classic Indians. They gather on Indy’s east side before parading through the city to The Salvation Army to deliver their toys. This year, this big-hearted group gathered 746 toys to help fill the shelves at Toy Shop in December.
Toy Shop is a special program designed to help parents who are working or attending school, but whose finances are stretched too thinly to afford Christmas gifts for their children. The parents are able to “shop” for the perfect toys for their unique and special children, from the smallest babies to those hard-to-buy-for teens.
Without toy drives like the Circle City Toy Run, those shelves would be bare.
The Circle City Toy Run began when Bumper’s mother, who volunteered with The Salvation Army, encouraged her son to help her wrap presents for a Christmas program. The next year he began collecting toys with some of his friends, but wanted his collection to be bigger and have a greater impact.
“I kept thinking, ‘How can I bring awareness to The Salvation Army? How can I get other people involved other than me and my friends?’ So I decided riding motorcycles in December was a pretty crazy idea,” Bumper explains with a laugh.
The event has since become a day-long adventure complete with music, barbecue and a special stop by The Salvation Army’s Emergency Disaster Services canteen for hot cocoa and a miniature Salvation Army bell. Riders come back year after year, adding another bell to their collections, a new Circle City Toy Run t-shirt to their wardrobes, and a warm feeling in their hearts knowing that they are helping hundreds of children have a merrier Christmas.