It wouldn’t be Christmas without it.
As the roar of almost 10,000 motorcycles fills the air in early December each year, crowds of people – young and old – line the streets from Stockton to Wickham Park to soak up the atmosphere of a 41-year strong community tradition in the Hunter. From motorized scooters to magnificent Harley Davidson, the Newcastle Toy Run is a magnificent sight to behold.
The much-anticipated convoy of Santa’s helpers on their decorated motorbikes, bearing toys for children in need and overflowing with Christmas spirit, has long signaled the beginning of the festive season in the Hunter as the streets come alive with colour and good cheer to celebrate the annual Toy Run.
Starting in Stockton and snaking its way to Wickham Park, the Toy Run is an incredible sight that culminates in the Park, where a free family fun day is held to bring people together and provide a wonderful day for the whole community.
Live music, market stalls, amusements rides and some friendly competition in the way of tug-o-war and other games come together to create a dynamic vibe that brings Christmas alive and community together.
Toy Run Chairman Daryn Young has been part of the incredible event since he was a teenager riding with his dad ‘Big John’ Young on the run when it consisted of only 80 bikes. As his father’s passion for the Toy Run grew, so did his own.
‘I still get the same feeling each year as I did on that first ride,’ Young says.
‘But without the help of Port Waratah, it would be impossible to make the Toy Run happen. We give 100% of our donations to the Salvation Army and that’s thanks to the wonderful corporate support from Port Waratah which allows us to purchase essential equipment like signage, safety gear and other equipment, so we can give everything we raise back to those who need it.
‘Christmas is a tough time for families who are struggling. Knowing we can help so many children who may otherwise go without is a fantastic feeling.’
In addition to its corporate sponsorship, Port Waratah employees raise thousands of dollars in conjunction with the Toy Run, an amount that is matched dollar for dollar by Port Waratah. Since 2003, more than $300,000 has been raised by Port Waratah and directly donated to the Salvation Army through the Toy Run.
Port Waratah Coal Services has also been supporting The Salvation Army as a Red Shield Appeal community partner in the Hunter for more than 15 years.
Every year, Port Waratah gives to the Appeal – the Salvation Army’s signature fundraising drive for its vast network of social and community services. In the Hunter, what’s raised by the Red Shield Appeal supports Oasis Hunter.
Staffed by more than 20 dedicated youth workers, trainers and supervisors, Oasis has a full scope of services and a comprehensive referral network for its clients who often need guidance to help them get their lives back on track.
Salvation Army Fundraising and Public Relations Manager Nicole Jenkinson says the support of Port Waratah in helping the local community was invaluable.
‘We are able to reach and help so many local people through our Oasis services. What’s more, all the money raised by staff and matched by Port Waratah at Christmas stays in the Hunter community.
‘It allows us to help more than 4,000 Hunter families with toys, gift vouchers and food hampers.’
Salvos Toy Run is a Christmas season event that has run for more than 40 years, raising toys and funds for kids in need. Some 10,000 motorcyclists ride from Stockton and end at a free family fun day in Wickham Park.