Led by Santa Claus in a brightly colored sleigh, hundreds of motorcycle riders took to the streets of Goldsboro Sunday for the 29th annual Wayne County Motorcycle Riders Toy Run.
Bikers from Wayne and other surrounding counties filled the Berkeley Mall parking lot as Christmas toys were collected and donations given to help area children.
Each year, thousands of dollars are donated to the charity effort, said Gaby Blalock, event organizer.
"People come together to ride for the toy run," Blalock said. "All proceeds and toys go to Wayne County children. We want a child in Wayne County to wake up to a toy, not an empty Christmas tree.
"We have big hearts."
The turnout this year was larger than normal, partly because of warmer temperatures, drawing close to 300 bikers from the county, Lenoir County, Kinston and Jacksonville, Blalock said.
"The weather's great this year, so we've done well," Blalock said. "We've just been around for a long time.
"It takes an army."
Several of the motorcycles had children's toys -- a Tickle Me Elmo and a Wilson football -- strapped to the back seat before they were donated to the cause.
Each biker on the toy run donated at least one new toy or gave a cash donation. One biker pulled out $40 to help the effort. Two trucks were filled with toys.
Toy run donations will go to children served by the Wayne Uplift Domestic Violence Program and the Boys and Girls Club of Wayne County.
Roger Dillard, a Wayne County resident, participates in the toy run every year. As a father, he understands how important it is for children to have gifts under the Christmas tree.
"Any benefit ride I can get to, I ride," he said. "You've got a lot of less fortunate and it helps everybody all around.
"Times are real tough right now job wise, and every time you turn around, everything gets more expensive."
Dillard also enjoys the chance to get out and ride with other bikers.
"Sometimes, you meet new people," he said. "We all like to ride and it gives us time to ride and get together."
After collecting the toys and donations, the bikers rode down Berkeley Boulevard and Ash Street to the downtown area and circled back down Ash Street to Spence Avenue, Royall Avenue and along George Street.
The run ended at The Howling Moon Saloon where an afterparty was held. Inside the saloon, children's toys were piled high on top of several pool tables.
Dressed in red cowgirl boots, a red sweater and red scarf, Sandi Morrow said the toy run was a combined effort of everyone involved. Morrow has participated in the toy run every year.
"We go on all the toy runs," she said. "This is the biggest one. It's for the kids, to put smiles on the faces of children who may not have anything under the tree."
Morrow took with her a children's toy for a girl and another for a boy. The toy run is also a lot of fun for bikers who get the chance to pull together their resources for the less fortunate, she said.
"Everybody just pitches in," Morrow said. "It's family. It's sisterhood. It's brotherhood. Everybody just pulls together for the kids.
"Every year, it gets bigger and better."