BURLEY — Mini-Cassia Christmas Council volunteers stood on the sidewalk Thursday with a banner that read “We Love Bro Speed” as members of Brother Speed South Central Chapter motorcycle club unloaded a cargo trailer full of $31,000 in new toys.
The toys will be given as gifts to Mini-Cassia children whose families would otherwise couldn’t afford Christmas gifts.
“We had to get a bigger trailer this year,” club president Gary Pawson said.
After the toys were put away, Pawson gave Christmas Council president Linda Short a big hug and presented her with a $10,000 check on behalf of the club and an anonymous donor.
“Merry Christmas,” he said.
The chapter raised $26,000 during its annual motorcycle run fundraiser and Walmart in North Burley chipped in $5,000 in discounts on the toys.
Due to weather on the day of the bike run, only 70 riders showed up, down from a customary 130.
“They still sent in donations though,” Pawson said.
Club members and their families turned out at Walmart on Wednesday to purchase the toys, a feat that produced several yards of cash register receipts.
“We always try to top what we did the previous year,” he said.
Pawson said he had to call his credit card company beforehand and talk to fraud control so they didn’t red flag his card.
Brother Speed member Rick Garner, of Rupert, said he previously lived in Portland, Ore.
“This small community donates as much as Portland did,” Garner said. “And it means all the kids will get good Christmas gifts regardless of whether their parents can give them.”
Donations to the chapter came in from several states as well as locally, said Twin Falls Brother Speed member Mark Green.
“We couldn’t do this without the community,” he said.
Nineteen Minico High School students were on hand Thursday to help Brother Speed bring the toys into the building.
The gifts Brother Speed donated last year will go out in the Christmas boxes this year, Short said, because the council starts early putting them together.
Brother Speed donated so many toys last year that they got larger toy bags for the boxes this year that also include food pantry items and a meat certificate. The value of the certificate is based on the number of people in the family and is honored at several local grocery stores.
Nearly 400 boxes are spoken for already, she said.
“We always get some calls right before Christmas when someone notices their neighbor didn’t put up a tree this year and was laid off work,” Short said.
Volunteer Crystal Ruiz donates her time at the council to give back to the community because she receives a Christmas box for her four children.
Without the help, she said, their Christmas presents would come from a thrift store.
“You see a lot of sad things,” Mary Young, council volunteer, said. “We see a lot of grandparents raising grandchildren and sometimes they are raising great grandchildren.”
Many others in the community have also made large donations this year, Short said, including Stotz Equipment, which delivered three pallets of toys and Northwest Farm Credit Service, which got a grant and gave the council 29 new bicycles. The waitresses at Wayside Café donated about $4,000 in tip money.