This year’s Christmas Toy Run was met with a beautiful summer’s day and over $20,000 worth of toys for the community’s underprivileged children.
Salvation Army case worker and community engagement member Judy Allen said she feels “overwhelmed” with Wagga’s generosity.
“Wagga is an exceptionally generous community and we see that at Christmas and throughout the year,” she said.
“For these children, it means the difference between having toys to open on Christmas day than not having toys to open.
“t makes such a huge difference with a lot of the children I see and financially things are becoming very difficult with families struggling.
“Christmas is usually the last thing on their list.”
Ms Allen said seeing the parents choosing their children’s presents is “special”.
“I don’t actually get to see the kids, but I do see the parents coming in and getting the presents for their kids, because we do want to keep it as a bit of a surprise for them,” she said.
“So we ask the parents not to bring their children in and they can pick the toys for them and the delight on their face is very overwhelming sometimes.
“Also to see some of the thankfulness from the parents that someone else cares for their kids, I think that’s the best feeling.”
The Combined Riders of Wagga have been organising the Toy Run for more than 30 years. Committee member Pat Combs said the Toy Run preparations started in July.
“Apart from the toys that get donated to us, we raise a lot of money and go buy the presents ourselves from our four sponsors, including the Junee Prison, Crouch Transport and the Commonwealth Bank,” he said.
“They donate a lot of money every year and there’s about $20,000 worth of toys, which is probably a little bit up on last year.
“Last year’s Toy Run was cancelled because of the roads being flooded, but we were still able to donate toys to children.”
Mr Combs said it is an “absolutely terrific” feeling to make a child’s Christmas special.
“I’ve been involved for about 20 years and I really enjoy it,” he said.
“A lot of these families are doing it tough and the children are missing out; it’s a great feeling knowing that these kids who weren’t going to get anything, now they will.
“It’s just we don’t get to see their faces on Christmas day.”