published: Friday, October 12, 2012
ABATE seeks donations, sponsors for 27th Toy Run
By SAMANTHA GHOLAR
SEBRING - The work has been set and organizers are already getting in gear for the holiday cheer well before most.
Tina Bennett, community and public relations director for Interstate Chapter of American Bikers Aimed Towards Education (ABATE), has re-joined the annual event this year and hopes to bring back the spirit of giving.
For the 27th year, ABATE will celebrate the season of giving with their annual toy run. Bennett, who has been absent from the run for the past two years, decided to take the reins for this year's event. Bennett has been busy this past week working to get the first steps in place.
"We have over 30 boxes to place in front of businesses in Highlands County. We don't have all of them out just yet, but we do have many in place," Bennett said.
ABATE is focused on getting a head start this year and is already recruiting sponsors for the toy run. This year a new addition to the toy run sponsorships has been added, something Bennett is proud to have as a part of the event.
"We have T-shirts this year. So each sponsor will have their name on the backs of the shirts. The first 150 riders signed up for the toy run will also get a shirt," Bennett said.
The sponsorships are $150. On Dec. 1, all the fun takes place when the riders make their way through Highlands County with a police escorted run. The run will begin at Blue Crab in Sebring and head to Lake Placid then back to Sebring where it ends at the Elks Lodge.
Following the run, a full turkey dinner will be served for the riders, families, sponsors and guests.
"The runs are a lot of fun. The police escorted ones are great because we don't have to stop. We drive straight to where we are going and back," Bennett said.
Before all the fun can happen though, Bennett hopes to bring in as many families and donations as possible this season. Everything from games, toys, books and turkeys are needed to make the ABATE Toy Run possible.
"I get calls all the time for kids asking about bikes. We would love to be able to give some of those out this year. They can be new or even slightly used. A couple years ago we had a gentlemen give us eight brand new ones so we would love to be able to give some out," Bennett said.
The mission behind the event is to reach the local families in need and that is exactly what Bennett plans to do.
"Last year, they gave toys to 47 kids and 19 families," Bennett said. "I want to try to reach out to help more kids this year."
Bennett has set a goal of delivering holiday cheer to 60 kids this holiday season. The team works together to screen the families that have applied for the toy run program. ABATE interviews each of the families to ensure they're qualified for the program as well as to be sure families aren't "double dipping".
Donations and inquiries about the program can be directed to Bennett at 381-9516.
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