Hometown Point of View: by Kelly Gee

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Posted by Joyce Rhyne on 18 Dec 14 - 0 Comments

Toy Run Boats Arrive

Toy Runners Win the Race!

The POC Toy Run and Lighted Boat Parade is an annual tradition as unique and as special as our community itself. But, if you have not participated, it is quite a different from most toy drives, especially for a town this size. Many are not prepared for the generosity and abundance of toys brought in by the boats for Toy Run. Ordinary business guys, fishing and boating enthusiasts and kind POC supporters bring literally thousands of toys in on their boats whatever the weather, and donate them to kids and families in the POC and Calhoun County area. Simple fishing boats and high dollar yachts motor in filled with toys and good cheer for families they will never meet. They pride themselves on no boat and no toy left behind, whatever the weather or challenges. Disadvantaged, homeless, foster, challenged, troubled and other kids who would not have a Christmas are the beneficiaries of this offering which includes toys for every age from infant to teens. Toys of every description from bikes and balls, fishing poles and camping gear to dolls and dishes, books and building sets, art sets and educational games are cheerfully donated by those boaters, their families, friends and customers. Some have a raffle or auction to raise the money for toy purchases. Some take donations or hold fundraisers. Many simply give from their abundance and the generosity of their hearts.

The toys arrive and are unloaded by local volunteers coordinated by Marie Hawes and her crew of helpers. They did an amazing job of assembly lining and soon those toys were loaded on to trailers that take them to the POC Community Center. There they are sorted and categorized for gifting by POC Angel Tree to local children. Other local and neighboring service organizations such as foster caregivers, the Calhoun County Sheriff’s projects for kids, homeless and disadvantage kids, shelter kids and their families then benefit from the abundance of the remaining toy run donations. The committee does a great job of selecting chosen and appropriate gifts for all POC Angel Tree recipients first and then reaching out to meet the Christmas wants and needs of other children in and near our area. It is an impressive display of bounty and big heartedness. It was really a treat to be a part of such a special event.

The fun extends beyond the toys and their gifting though. The Toy Run boat captains know how to make the work of donation into a celebration. They have a poker run, crazy music, costumes, T-shirts, elf ears, and other hilarity as they bring the toys down from the Clear Lake area. They enjoy their POC visit with impromptu parties, a lovely dinner offered this year by our very own POC Chamber of Commerce, and culminating with participation in the POC Lighted Boat Parade. Mary Jo Walker and a slew of workers put out a delicious spread for the Toy Run Boaters. Good Job Guys! Jeremy Dye, Virgil and others graciously helped out one captain whose boat got a little too up close and personal with one of our oyster reefs at the expense of his props, and locals pitched in to make the toy runners feel welcome. The boat parade was beautiful and loads of fun. An experience unique to coastal life and really like no other, it sets off the holiday season in a special way. It is hard to describe what makes our hometown so different unless you have experienced it. So, thanks to all those who were a part. Whether you volunteered, cooked, helped or just enjoyed the parade; you are the twinkle in our tinsel and the jingle in our bells. Have a Merry Merry Christmas and we will see you in the New Year!

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