HARKER HEIGHTS — Families will have a much brighter Christmas this year thanks to area motorcycle riders and sponsors throughout the community.

The second annual Toy and Fun Run at the Canteen roared off on Saturday with an estimated 50 riders participating as they joined the route along five designated stops running through Harker Heights, Nolanville, Killeen and Copperas Cove. Lynn and Mike Barber created the event last year and raised more than $5,000 for the Harker Heights Fire Department’s Santa Pals program.

“There is a need to help families who are less fortunate. By giving back and helping these charities, we are doing just that,” said Mike Barber, who started selling raffle tickets for a motorcycle giveaway six months ago.

In addition to the raffle, riders paid an entry fee and were encouraged to donate a new toy. Silent and live auctions, food sales and 31 sponsors each donating $100 added to the revenue, which Barber estimated raised between $7,500 and $8,000 this year. Plans are to once again donate $5,000 to the Santa Pals program, $1,000 to the VFW Children’s Home, specifically the Texas House, and the remainder to homeless programs.

“There are too many homeless people who don’t have Christmas. It feels really good to know that there is a child that will wake up with a smile on Christmas morning,” said Teresa Kurts, manager of The Canteen, which hosted the event.

Area motorcycle clubs were crucial to the success of the fundraiser, running registration, recruiting riders and reaching out to other clubs.

“Motorcycle clubs are often misunderstood. It is important to us that we help local charities and that what we raise stays in the local area,” said Edward Walden, the president of Boozefighters Motorcycle Club of Killeen, which participates in four to five charity events annually.

Herald/Wendy Sledd

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