COVINGTON -- Santa is loading up the sleigh and his helpers are revving up their motorcycles as they prepare to take part in the 13th Annual Toy Run Bike Ride Saturday.
The event, sponsored by the Newton County Sheriff's Office, will begin with registration at 10 a.m. in the Covington Kmart parking lot.
"The weather is supposed to be pretty, but we've had big crowds when it was 17 degrees. We're hoping for a big turnout," said NCSO Capt. Marty Roberts.
The only fee to participate in the ride, which will wind through the Newton County countryside escorted by NCSO deputies, is the donation of unwrapped toys, gift cards or a monetary contribution to help the children of Newton County.
"The toys we collect go only to Newton County residents, but the funding is so low this year, I don't know how many we'll be able to help," said NCSO Detention Officer Steven Plunkett.
He said the Sheriff's Office had been accepting names from people who were asking for help at Christmastime for the past week and they already had 200 names.
"Anything is appreciated. There's a need for all ages, all the way up to 13 or 14," he said. "Sometimes, when they're little, kids will request bikes and stuff, but we don't have that kind of funding. For the most part, the people are happy to get anything."
For those who don't want to participate in the ride, there is still plenty of opportunity to help by dropping items off at the Sheriff's Office headquarters on Alcovy Road, at Paco's restaurant or at Kroger on Salem Road where collection boxes will be located.
Plunkett said a few of the needy families will be visited by deputies who will deliver the toys on Christmas Eve, but others will be notified to come pick up the items before Christmas.
He said they needed a big turnout for the bike ride as well as a lot of individual donations due to the tremendous need this year.
"There's no way we'll be able to help all the families," he said with a sigh.
Perhaps the Christmas magic of generous citizens will prove him wrong.
For more information about the toy drive, call the Sheriff's Office at 678-625-1400