READING, Pa- Santa Claus traded his sleigh for a motorcycle on Sunday, November 1 as he led the 9th Annual Eastern PA Toy Run to benefit Toys for Tots. The ride started at Classic Harley-Davidson in Reading and travelled 25 miles to FirstEnergy Stadium, where the Reading Fightin’ Phils hosted the event from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The event was open to the public and guests were asked to donate a new, unwrapped toy or make a monetary donation to gain entrance. Participants in the ride were also asked to make a donation at the time of registration. All proceeds from the event benefit the United States Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots programs in Berks and Lebanon County and The Children’s Home of Reading.
Once inside the stadium, riders and guests mingled while enjoying live music.
Refreshments were available for purchase at one of the stadium concession stands. Santa was available to listen to children’s Christmas wishes and pose for photos throughout the afternoon.
The overall feeling of the event was excitement at the idea of doing something to help children in need. Diane Greenwood, a local resident and employee of the Fightins, expressed the thoughts of most in attendance saying, “It’s a good thing. It benefits the kids.”
Along with Santa and live music, vendors were set up in VIST Bank Plaza offering a wide range of information for guests. Participating vendors included Tompkins VIST Bank, Lady J. Cosplay, and Mostly Muttz Rescue, among others.
Another local resident, Carol Moyer, comes to almost all community events hosted at the stadium. “I just like coming out. I like being here with everyone,” she said when talking about what brought her to the event.
According to an article posted on the Fightins’ official website, the Eastern PA Toy Run began in 2007 as a collaboration between the Reading Fightin’ Phils and multiple motorcycle runs in the area as a way to continue benefiting Toys for Tots and The Children’s Home of Reading after the deployment of the Marine Corps Reserve Unit. It became the Eastern PA Toy Run after the cancellation of the Berks County Toys for Tots motorcycle run.
Participants with Lady J Cosplay, dressed as The Avengers and other superheroes, were participating in the event for the first time. The group, which does quite a bit of charity work in different areas, had nothing but positive feedback. “We had an absolute blast on the ride,” one participant dressed as Nick Fury said. “We were in the bed of a truck going about 50 miles an hour.”
Guests also had the chance to meet some furry friends from Mostly Muttz Rescue. All of the animals in attendance were available for adoption.
Through the generosity of baseball fans and motorcycle enthusiasts alike, children in Reading and across Berks and Lebanon County will have a merrier Christmas this year. The toy run is just one more way the Fightin’ Phils organization has found to help make an impact on the local community.