Hundreds of motorcyclists pulled into HK Powersports in Hooksett Sunday afternoon to donate toys to be distributed this Christmas by the Salvation Army.
The 39th annual Joanne Packard Memorial Toy Run started in Concord with more than 800 motorcycles making the trek. The annual event has become known as the unofficial launch of the New Hampshire Union Leader Santa Fund for the Salvation Army.
Dave Brisson of Goffstown stood in line to donate a Hot Wheels monster truck toy and a Playhut, a hideaway popup play tent. He said he has participated in the event on and off for 30 years.
“I get excited about it,” he said.
Bob Boucher of Antrim, a member of the Manchester Motorcycle Club, held a teddy bear he planned to donate.
“Most kids like stuffed animals, so that was the easiest for me to pick out,” he said. “Every kid deserves something to enjoy.”
This was his first time taking part in the Toy Run.
“It is exciting,” he said. “It is a joy that this many people actually came out to support the effort.”
His cousin, Nicole Boucher, who lives in Washington and serves as secretary of the Manchester club, said her family has been a recipient of the toys in the past.
“It makes a big difference,” she said.
Salvation Army Capts. Scott and Nora McNeil and Lt. Adrian Aponte waved to all the cyclists as they pulled into the parking lot.
Scott McNeil was impressed with the turnout.
“This becomes an early kick-off for our whole Christmas season and getting toys for the children,” McNeil said.
Traci Beaurivage, president of the New Hampshire Motorcyclists’ Rights Organization, said the Toy Run had a good showing, especially with many other things going on, including an air show in Portsmouth.
“We had people from other states who had come that I’ve never met before,” she said.
Barbara Standke of Methuen, Mass., and Mark Jensen of Tewksbury, Mass., dropped off several toys, including some games and a Koosh ball.
“I grew up poor, so I know what it is like not to have gotten gifts,” Standke said.
She commended the work of the Salvation Army.
Brisson said he encouraged other members of BROs Inc., a nonprofit social club, to join in the Toy Run for the first time this year.
“Motorcycle clubs and people who ride motorcycles are some of the most giving people that I know,” Brisson said. “When there is a call for a charity, the bikers are there.”