Blustery winds that buffeted the island Sunday blew around more than leaves — they also blew in a windfall of toys.
More than 200 motorcycle enthusiasts representing several of the motorcycle clubs on Kauai rumbled into the parking lot surrounding the Historic County Building for the annual Toys for Keiki ride.
Enhanced by contributions from passersby, Karin Warganich of the Children’s Justice Center and director Karla Huerta-Balocan had their hands full loading two carloads of toys, finishing just as drops from a passing rain squall sent the motorcycle riders roaring off to on Eastside and North Shore run.
Russell Haluapo has been hosting the annual Toys for Keiki motorcycle run for the past 27 years, the toys going to organizations and churches who bring Christmas cheer to children who would otherwise not have anything.
“This is a tradition,” said Jocelyn Awong whose husband Tom was among the field of motorcycle riders. “Russell always does it on the second Sunday in December. This year, they even kidnapped Santa from his breakfast.”
The sounds of the motorcycle caravan could be heard at the entrance to the Walmart store where the U.S. Marine Corps were hosting its Toys for Tots collection tent. J.Q. Smith, celebrating his 92nd birthday last month, is the senior commandant for the U.S. Marine Corps League and heads the effort.
“We’re here every weekend from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.,” said Tierny Rose, the U.S. Marine monitoring the tent. “We’ll be here through Christmas for anyone who wants to share the holiday spirit with a child.”
In the stream of customers exiting the store, Pam and Ray Pramuka of Moloa‘a looked like everyone else, each wheeling a cartload of toys.
But, unlike the other shoppers heading for their cars, Ray stopped his wagon.
“Anyone want some toys?” he asked, triggering Rose, and volunteers Isabel Gampon and her mother Ray into action, getting the toys transferred from the shopping carts to containers securing the contributions from the weather.
“This is incredible,” Rose said. “Through the generosity of Kauai’s families like this, we’re able to take care of needs from The Salvation Army, churches, and other groups helping families”
Last year, they collected more than 10,000 toys.
The Pramukas said this is one of their family traditions.
“Toys for Tots is one of our pet charities,” said Pat. “We do because we can.”
Mary Kay Hertog, commandant of the Kauai Veterans Council, came to relieve Rose who said Toys for Tots also relies on volunteers.
“I’m here because it’s my birthday,” said Isabel, a Kauai High School student. “I have everything I need, so instead of gifts for my birthday, I’m spending time with my mother to give back to others who are in need.”