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24th Ron Hillis Toy Drive Collecting Toys For Kids Friday

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
24th Ron Hillis Toy Drive Collecting Toys For Kids Friday

The Ron Hillis Memorial Toy Drive will be collecting toys Friday, the 24th time the event has asked the community for help.

The Central Baptist Association and McMinnville motorcyclists team up for the event. Central Baptist Association Director of Missions Jim Ramsey said the event has supplied toys to some 450 children in each of the last two years.

“For families that are struggling, to see the relief in their heart and mind when they know that their kids are getting something for Christmas instead of nothing,” Ramsey said.

Ramsey said a tractor-trailer will be parked in front of Walmart Friday, asking people to donate toys to the cause. Wolford said usually they fill the trailer with toys on that day alone.

Parents can sign their children up at the Central Baptist Association office Tuesday-Thursday until toy pickup day arrives. Ramsey said each child will receive five to seven toys that parents can pick up on December 15th.

Founder of the event Rob Wolford said that fellow McMinnville motorcyclists spend October through December asking local businesses for sponsorships to raise funds for the toys. Ron Willis was a key contributor to the event for over 20 years and following his death in 2021, the event was named for him.

“I can remember so many times, little kids would run out and grab you by the leg and really pull at your heartstrings,” Wolford said. “Since then, these guys are grown and some of them even have kids, so it’s cool to see someone come up and say “Hey Rob, I remember when I was a little kid and you came to my house and helped me. what can I do to be a part of this?” That’s what makes it worthwhile to me.”

Wolford said that the community has grown to love and appreciate the event and all of the good that it does. Wolford said that in 1999 when the drive was in its first year, a group of long-haired bikers claiming to be a part of a toy drive were more likely to get locked out of a Walmart than get the help they were after. Now the community looks forward to supporting each holiday season.

“Now, through the years, everyone personally knows our names and knows us,” Wolford said. “We’re people in the community and now they call and say ‘Hey Rob, when are y’all coming by?’ It’s been a blessing all the way around.”


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