On Saturday December 17, members of F Troop spent four hours visiting low income housing areas in Burney, Johnson Park, Fall River Mills, and McArthur to give Christmas presents to children. F Troop is the Burney affiliate of United Bikers of Northern California.
About 10 a.m., club members gathered at the house of F Troop President Greg Trotter. The temperature was still in the 20’s so many decided to drive in cars rather than ride their bikes.
Four of the bikers, though, were determined to make the ride on their bikes, including Santa who’s sled is a beautiful tri-wheeler.
The club had raised enough money to purchase Christmas stockings and toys for about 125 boys and girls ranging in age from toddlers to teens. Most of the funds had been raised at their annual yard sale held on the weekend of September 17-18. In addition, four boxes of toys had been donated by the Fall River Hospital District “Stuff the Ambulance,” that collects toys to be distributed to local children.
About 10:30 the group set off in a caravan of four motorcycles followed by about 10 cars and trucks. The first stop was the Superior Avenue Apartments in Burney. Dozens of kids and parents came out to greet Santa and the bikers.
The next stop was Burney Villa. The temperatures were still sub-freezing but the joy and love that filled everyone’s hearts warmed us all up.
Many of the members of F Troop had adorned themselves in Christmas apparel wearing Santa caps and amazing elf hats that delighted the children.
After every child at Burney Terrace had received their gifts, we headed to the Quebec Apartments across from Burney Cemetery. The parking lot was a shallow sea of ice. Santa sat on the fender of his bike/sled on the sidewalk as children streamed out to greet him and receive their presents.
After a short stop at the Safeway, the group headed east to Rainbow’s End in Johnson Park. Almost everyone in the community came out to receive the bikers. Some of the children could hardly contain their enthusiasm and the parents were effusive in their gratitude.
As the gift giving came to an end Santa heard that one mom was unable to bring her three children out. Tragically, the father of the family had died the previous week from pancreatic cancer. Santa made a special trip to their trailer to deliver presents to the little ones and offer some cheer and consolation.
The journey of bikers bearing gifts continued to the east. After a brief rest stop at Hat Creek Park, the caravan headed over the mountain to Cedarwood apartments in Fall River Mills.
The parking lot was soon full as children of all ages came forth and appropriate gifts for each child were selected.
Traveling through town, Greg stopped at Fall River Hospital. Because the nurses and EMP’s had donated some of the gifts, the club wanted to greet and thank the nurses. As it turned out, the nurses were busy caring for their patients. However, in one of the rooms a young man was being visited by his parents and they welcomed Santa as he presented the lad with gifts.
The final stop on the toy ride was the McArthur Trailer Park. The population of this residential area is primarily Hispanic. It was readily apparent, however that the Spirit of Christmas knows no linguistic barriers. Melissa Sweet, who came along with her baby and son, helped with some translation. As the gifts were being brought out some of the children lined up with Santa for a Feliz Navidad photo.
The children were excited, the parents and grandparents were grateful, and F Troop was intoxicated with the joy of giving.
When all was done, we retired to the Mercantile for a group photo and delicious pizza.
Even as we ate, the members of F Troop began planning next year’s Christmas Toy Run. Part of F Troops motto is “riding to live and living to give.”
Thanks to all who made this joyful happening possible.