North Island Gazette file photo Nearly 80 bikers were involved at one point for the annual toy run.

Annual toy run ends last year with donations to the hamper fund

The charity event helped numerous families across the North Island, donating and wrapping gifts.

It’s a sad end to what is known as the Toy Run after the organizer felt the charity event ran its shelf life, but the event has helped North Island families for what could be decades.

Dawn Harilstad, the organizer for the toy run, said in a phone call that she was “really disappointed that it’s the last year. If you’ve ever been in Port Alberni and seen the support, it’s the support we wanted with people on the street, sitting in their cars waiting, since this is for our kids on the North Island. This is what helps kids.”

Rain or shine, Harilstad made certain that the event would give toys and money to a good cause. The Lionness Club were once involved in the process as well, having wrapped the toys for donation.

The toys collected during the early September charity event are donated to the Gazette Hamper Fund around the holiday season. Money is also donated to the fund.

In the event’s history, as much as 80 motorcyclists would turn up who would then travel between Port McNeill and Port Hardy. Decades ago Harilstad would throw an annual dance for locals, which was replaced by a charity pig roast and stomp. The pig roast is organized by Annie LeBlanc.

Over the years, the event raised well over $22,000 since 2014.

Harilstad concluded that the toy run helped numerous families over the years, who “don’t have enough money to go out and buy food.”

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