The Tale of the Toy Run Bike By Kelly Gee

Archived in the category: Events, General Info
Posted by Joyce Rhyne on 14 Dec 17 - 0 Comments
Annette, Mark and Kole with the little pink bike

Annette, Mark and Kole with the little pink bike

A little pink bike with training wheels and a baby seat for a doll will be lovingly placed under a tiny artificial Christmas tree in a small trailer on Christmas morning. This little bike made its way to POC in the annual Freeport to POC Toy Run.

Three people who do not know the child who will get this bike made this special gift possible. Annette Houseman, who happens to be our own Chris Mapp’s little sister asked two friends to join her in the Toy Run. Annette is a retired executive who lives in Freeport and has participated in 8 or more Toy Runs. Boat Captain Kole Rudasill is a young Aggie from College Station who breeds and sells deer and had a new fishing boat named Cheyenne that he really wanted to run down the coast. So, with no ties to POC he allowed himself to be recruited by Annette. First Mate Mark Poole is a busy Oil and Gas Account Exec in Sugarland and was convinced by Annette to leave serious behind and join them on the adventure.

These three pooled their own money, asked some friends and coworkers to donate and filled the boat with toys and bikes. None of them have children, live in POC or nearby areas, or have family served by The Toy Run. They gave time, money and toys out of generous hearts. They arrived in the first boat on Saturday, sunburned and smiling and unloaded those toys along with thousands of others at Clarks Inn. Trucks and trailers were loaded down with more toys than Santa’s sleigh and made their way to the Community Center where those toys were sorted for distribution.

More than 6000 toys were given to more than 2800 children and teens in POC and surrounding areas who wouldn’t have had Christmas otherwise. 45 POC children were placed on the Angel Tree list and will be sponsored for Christmas. A trailer of toys was sent to Rockport to be given to children of families who are still trying to recover from Hurricane Harvey. Children, each deserving and in need for many different reasons, in Seadrift, Port Lavaca, Tivoli, Refugio, and other communities will get toys on Christmas morning. Children in foster care, those whose parents may be incarcerated or hospitalized, many in group homes and care facilities will all be served by the POC Toy Run toys.

The family of a little girl who will shout with joy over the little pink bike is one of those families. Her daddy John was working a good job when life changed. He drove an old beat up car to work, but with two little ones at home and a baby on the way he couldn’t afford another. Then, the baby was born with a hole in her heart. Surgeries and stress and days off work made keeping the car impossible, and loss of the car meant the job was next and John and Leslie were soon unemployed, overextended and feeling so alone. Hurricane Harvey took their home and they were displaced for weeks until a POC friend connected them with a donated trailer with only two small bedrooms, but to them it seems like much more. They didn’t expect to have gifts for the kids this year but now they will thanks to the Angel Tree donors, the Toy Run and the generosity of this community.

So, thanks to Annette, and Mark, and Kole and all those Toy Runners who brought boatloads of toys. Wendy Fry coordinated more than 35 boats in this year’s run, and those same boats made our annual Lighted Boat Parade something special. Thanks to Wanda and Judith and Teddy and all the POC Hardware staff who organize the Angel Tree. Please take time to go by and get an angel off the tree. you could buy a few clothes and things to wrap and give with the toys. Thanks to school staff who help us find those local children who need a little help this year. And huge thanks to Marie Hawes and her enormous team of volunteers who work tirelessly to distribute all the toys to all the children in many organizations and facilities. It is an enormous undertaking and they do an amazing job.

One of the Toy Run boats loaded with toys-Wendy Fry

One of the Toy Run boats loaded with toys-Wendy Fry

Toys ready for distribution at the Community Center -Russell Cain

Toys ready for distribution at the Community Center
-Russell Cain

Thank you, Toy Run! And thank you, all the local volunteers!

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