Skip and Deb Spedding of Scott Township have been involved in the Toys for Tots program for years and have always worked to help kids have a brighter Christmas.
But this year, they're going far above and beyond anything they've ever done before by organizing a massive motorcycle ride that starts in Honesdale on Sunday, Oct. 6.
"We hope to have a couple hundred motorcycles taking part in this event to help needy families in Lackawanna and Wayne counties," Deb offered. "It's all going to benefit Catholic Social Services, which will be distributing the toys we collect at its Honesdale and Carbondale offices."
"One of our motorcycles will be towing a large red sleigh built on a trailer — it's about eight feet long, seven feet wide and four feet high," she noted, adding that the float has been seen locally in the Memorial Day parades in Honesdale and Hawley, the Fourth of July parade in Hawley, and in the Pioneer Nights parade in August.
She said the Fill the Sleigh Motorcycle Toy Run is being sponsored by the Honesdale Harley Riders H.O.G. chapter and Baer Sport Center in Honesdale.
Registration will be held at Baer's on Sunday starting at 10 a.m., then the ride kicks off from there at noon. The bikers will travel Route 6 west through Honesdale to Route 170 north past Prompton State Park to Pleasant Mount, then on to Union Dale, Crystal Lake, Dundaff corners, Finch Hill corners, and then Route 106 into Carbondale.
"We'll be coming right down Main Street of Carbondale at about 1 p.m.," Deb related. "While we're in town, we're also going to stop in the shopping plaza at Weis for about half an hour to hold a toy collection."
From the shopping plaza in Carbondale, the ride will continue on Business Route 6 west to Jermyn and on to the Scott Hose Co. fire hall in Montdale. The entry fee for riders is a new, unwrapped toy.
"It's been a little bit of a challenge and a lot of work putting this all together," Deb said with a laugh. "Right now we're just hoping for good weather this Sunday. That's always the key to a successful motorcycle ride."
She stated that she and her husband Skip, who served in the Marines, have been helping out in the Toys for Tots campaign through the Marine Corps League for years. However, when their church took part in a weekend Christmas event for inner-city families at Harmony Heart Camp, they realized they had to do more.
"There was a seven-year-old boy who kept asking when he was getting his Christmas present, so when the time finally came and he got a basketball as his present, he was just thrilled," Deb recounted. "Later, his mother told us that ball was his first Christmas present. We said that wasn't surprising since it was still early in the season, but she said, 'No, you don't understand, that's his first Christmas present ever.' That shouldn't be!"
Page 2 of 2 - "My husband came up with the idea then for this motorcycle ride, and we already had a connection with Baer's so they jumped right on board and it's just taken off since then," she stated.
"There are a lot of families in this area who really, really struggle to provide Christmas presents for their kids, so we want to try to make it easier for them and also make Christmas a much happier time for the kids."
For those who can't take part in the ride or participate in the event, Deb said they can still "help us fill the sleigh with toys." She noted that collection boxes will be in place for new, unwrapped toys to be dropped off at three locations through Oct. 6 — Baer Sport Center, 330 Grandview Ave. in Honesdale, Wednesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday morning 10 a.m. to 12 noon; Lynne's Hallmark in the shopping plaza in Carbondale, Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Lake Region IGA, 52 Welwood Ave. in Hawley, Wednesday and Thursday and Sunday, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.