COVINGTON -- If you think Santa gets cold in his sleigh when delivering toys on Christmas Eve, try riding a motorcycle in December through the back roads of Newton County. That's what a group of Newton County Sheriff's Office deputies and their friends plan to do this weekend for the 12th annual Sheriff's Office Toy Run.
"This is known by motorcycle riders to be one of the coldest runs of the year and typically it's the last toy run before the holidays," said NCSO Capt. Marty Roberts. "One year it was 19 degrees and last year it rained on us, but people still come. We're always surprised by the support."
The event is set for Saturday and registration with lots of hot coffee are available will begin at 9 a.m. in the parking lot in front of Kmart on Turner Lake Road.
"We'll pull out about 10:30, and we'll stay in Newton County on county roads," Roberts said. "The ride lasts about an hour, and we'll wind up back at Little Phillies on Industrial Boulevard to eat lunch."
The fee for participation is an unwrapped, new toy or a monetary donation that will be used to purchase toys or gifts for those needing assistance.
Roberts said hundreds of toys are donated as a result of the toy run for Newton County children.
"Typically, with the riders who come, they don't stop with just one toy. They give two or three toys and are fairly generous with their donations," he said. "What we don't get, we go buy. I can't say enough about the generosity of the people who come. They always come across."
And, Roberts said there is a wide variety of gifts available.
"We always wind up with a good many toys for younger kids. The older teens are hard to buy for and that's where the donations are used," he said. "I don't remember anybody that we were not able to help."
The toys will be delivered by deputies and volunteers on Christmas Eve.
"A good many of the riders will come in on Christmas and help deliver the toys. Anybody is welcome to come and do that," he said.
Roberts said it has been a moving experience through the years to deliver the toys.
"I know it sounds corny, but all of them are memorable when we see that without what little bit we give them, there wouldn't be anything," he said. "We're used to seeing a tree up with gifts under it, but we walk in a house on Christmas Eve and there's nothing at all. It's kind of sobering."
Residents who are in need of assistance with Christmas gifts for their children can go by the Newton County Law Enforcement Center on Alcovy Road and fill out an application with the names and ages of the children at any time.
"The paperwork is out front and they can talk to whoever is working the window 24/7," Roberts said. "We've already started seeing applications come in. I expect we'll have more this year to try to help, but we thought that last year, too, and we had about the same amount as we did the year before. You just never know."
Roberts said any funds or toys not used at Christmas were used throughout the year for local families in need.
Also, anyone who'd like to make a donation of a toy for the project is welcome to come by the Kmart parking lot Saturday morning or drop a toy off at the Sheriff's Office, Roberts said.