Motorcycle ride kicks off Toys for Tots 2013

Fall may have just arrived, but it's not too soon to think about the season of giving.

The 2013 Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program in DeKalb County will kick off its annual drive for Christmas gifts for needy children with a motorcycle ride this Saturday, Sept. 28. It will start at 4 p.m. at Harley Davidson in DeKalb and end at the Genoa Veterans Home.

"This is our second attempt at it," Mike Fogelsanger, coordinator of the bike ride, said. "Last year we did it in October and it was too cold, so we moved it up a month."

Despite 50-degree temperatures last year, more than 100 motorcyclists participated. So far this year, Fogelsanger has been contacted by groups from Rockford, Chicago and even Iowa.

"We may have 300 depending on the weather," he said.

Riders will pay $10 plus a new, unwrapped toy to participate in the ride, and passengers will pay $5. Proceeds support the local Toys for Tots. Fogelsanger said there is no set fundraising goal; the purpose of the ride is to make people aware that the season is coming and to think of those in need.

"It's tough times all around," he said.

Registration at DeKalb Harley Davidson, 969 N. Peace Road, is from 3 to 4 p.m. The route travels through DeKalb and Sycamore before ending at the Genoa Veterans Home, 311 S. Washington St., which will host an after party from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Fogelsanger said riders will be escorted by local police and fire departments.

Jake Zimmerman, marketing manager for DeKalb Harley Davidson, said the kickoff ride coincides with the store's Octoberfest, which runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., featuring German food and beer and a performance by a local band from noon to 4 p.m. Shooter will also perform at the after party.

"This is for a good cause," Zimmerman said. "We're happy to be part of it."

Kathi Hogshead Davis, DeKalb County ride coordinator, said Toys for Tots collection boxes will be located throughout DeKalb County from the first week of November through Dec. 14. Toys will be distributed by the Salvation Army in DeKalb just before Christmas.

Last year, Fogelsanger said more than 12,000 toys were donated in the county, including some last-minute gifts organizers purchased on Christmas Eve.

"Nobody wants to tell any child they can't have a toy," he said.

Zimmerman said the Harley dealership will also partner with Opportunity House for a fundraiser in October. A chili cook-off will be held at the dealership Oct. 19.

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