Ninth annual Esperance Toy Run sees community come together

Preparations for the ninth annual Esperance Toy Run have seen stakeholders and local businesses band together with the shared goal of helping those less fortunate this festive season.

Toys and goods for underprivileged babies, children and teenagers are donated to Esperance’s Restore Hope Foundation – a charity established more than two decades ago to address the issue of homelessness in the region.

The annual charity event attracts almost one hundred participants, with hundreds of onlookers watching as motorcycles, vintage cars and modified vehicles take to the tourist loop to deliver the toys and goods to those children in need.

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Event supporter and Mates 4 Mates regional organiser Paul ‘Slim’ McKenzie has been involved since day one, drawn to the cause by a desire to give back to the community.

“It’s about giving back to the community - there is a need for that,” he said.

“Nine years ago, I was approached to help organise the Toy Run and that’s where I come into it. 

“It’s an all-inclusive event for a good cause. 

“It’s about Restore Hope, what they do for this community and for people in need. 

“They’re [Restore Hope Foundation] ensuring that those in need are guaranteed a decent Christmas like the rest of us.”

Mr McKenzie said a number of motorbike riders involved in Mates 4 Mates, an initiative to help raise awareness of depression and suicide, would be attending on the day, with some travelling from as far as Kalgoorlie to help support the cause.

After having more than 80 riders participate in the 2017 Toy Run, Mr McKenzie said he hoped this year’s event would attract upwards of 100 participants.

“It’d be great to see more [participants],” he said.

“Everyone is welcome to join in. 

“Motorbikes, vintage cars, modified cars – whatever.”

Onboard to support the cause for the fifth consecutive year, IGA Pink Lake owner Ron Chambers said the event was a great way for the business to give to those in need.

Mates 4 Mates regional organiser Paul 'Slim' McKenzie with members Harry Sainty and Mick Harris and Pink Lake IGA owner Ron Chambers. Photo: Jesinta Burton.

Mates 4 Mates regional organiser Paul 'Slim' McKenzie with members Harry Sainty and Mick Harris and Pink Lake IGA owner Ron Chambers. Photo: Jesinta Burton.

“We’ve been involved for around five years now, since Slim first approached me,” he said.

“As far as I’m concerned, it’s just a feel good community event to help out those in need. 

“I think the Toy Run is a really great way of reaching a lot of people within the community and giving back to the community and helping those in need.”

For sponsor Michael Florisson, owner and manager of Florissons Home Furnishers, the event demonstrated that local businesses could come together to make a difference.

Mr Florisson said he became involved through his employee Ben Pratt, a representative of Restore Hope Foundation and a key organiser in the 2017 Toy Run.

After being approached by Mr McKenzie to provide his shop and car park as a venue for the event, Mr Florisson jumped at the opportunity to be involved. 

“As a business, I think that unless we all contribute to these sorts of things then it’s not going to happen,” he said.

“Quite often the very big business doesn’t [contribute] whereas the smaller, local businesses tend to make these things happen.

“It’s really good because I believe that it shows that businesses can get together to make a difference, that we as businesses can get together and put back into the community and give to those who don’t have much. 

“It’s definitely the season to be thinking about others and I think we need to remember that there are a lot of people out there doing it tough and a lot of us are very, very fortunate.”

IGA Castletown, SUPA Iga and Dome Esperance have also offered their sponsorship for this year’s event.

Mr McKenzie extended thanks to IGA manager Abhinav Sharma and Dome Esperance owner John Parsons for their generous contributions and ongoing support and said it was great to see the event grow.

The ninth annual Christmas Toy Run will begin from 9am at the Esperance Bay Turf Club on Saturday, December 15, for a 9.30am departure.

The Toy Run will conclude at Florissons Home Furnishers on Norseman Road.

Those who wish to donate any new unwrapped goods are able to do so at Florissons.