SILVERDALE — One moment, all was quiet at the front entrance of Harrison Medical Center. The next, the sound of rumbling motorcycle engines signaled the arrival of a holiday bonanza that would make Santa Claus himself green with envy.
It will be yet another fruitful holiday season for children at the Silverdale hospital, as members of North Kitsap ABATE, a motorcycle group comprised of local riders, escorted a trailer full of gifts collected from local establishments throughout Kitsap County.
In its 25th year, the North Kitsap ABATE Toy Run sends out volunteer riders to pick up toys collected in barrels distributed around the county and pile them into a trailer for delivery. This year, riders were dispatched at 10 a.m. and reconvened at 3 p.m. at Putter’s Restaurant in Bremerton before making the final ride to Harrison Medical Center.
The toys are not solely set aside for the holiday season — they are distributed to children at the hospital, and other local Kitsap hospitals, throughout the year — but the timing of the charitable gesture, this year the run was held on Dec. 3, certainly evokes the yuletide spirit.
“It’s a valuable thing for the community, but it’s fun for us too,” said Jim McVey, the coordinator of North Kitsap ABATE, which is a local chapter of a non-profit organization dedicated to advocating for motorcycle riders. “This is the day we really get to enjoy it.”
And it is an all-volunteer effort, McVey said.
“We just like to give back to the community,” McVey said. “We all live here.”
Once the toys arrived, it was not long before they were unpacked from their plastic bags. Soon after, the area around the hospital lobby Christmas tree was engulfed in stuffed animals, games, coloring books and other assorted toys.
“This is the best part of the whole day,” McVey said after the toys were out on display. “We get rained on, we get snowed on sometimes, this is it. This is what we come for.”
And soon some of the toys will be put into the arms of an eager child. Deb Debenon, who works in pediatric rehab at Harrison, noted there are already 200 children signed up to receive a gift. Those will be given out at a holiday party on Dec. 7.
“I sincerely love that our community pulls together every year for this event, it’s so heart-warming,” Debenson said.
— Mark Krulish is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.