Southern Alberta bikers donate toys to Lethbridge women's emergency shelter

Southern Alberta bikers donate toys to Lethbridge women's emergency shelter

More than 90 motorcyclists rode through the streets with toys strapped to their backs as part of the 38th annual Lethbridge Toy Run on Saturday.

The event was hosted by the Southern Alberta Bikers Association and delivered toys to the YWCA Harbour House, a women’s emergency shelter in Lethbridge.

“This means so much to us here that the southern Alberta bikers would come and spend this time with us and do this for our women and children,” said Lorrie Wittke, youth services manager with the YWCA Lethbridge.

This year, more than 120 people took part in the event, with 96 motorcycles making the way from Coalhurst, Alta., to the YWCA.

Dallas Hart, the president of the Southern Alberta Bikers Association, said this year’s event drew bikers from across the province, bringing together an entire community of people to help those in need.

“I’m kind of a big old softy. It just warms my heart to see people coming together and doing this,” he said.

“To see what people can do when they work together is absolutely amazing. It makes me very proud not only to be president of the Southern Alberta Bikers Association but of the biking community in southern Alberta as a whole.”

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Last year, Wittke said the Harbour House helped service 500 women and children.

Since April 2019, the facility has already housed more than 160 individuals, with most people coming to the shelter with only the clothes on their backs, Wittke explained.

“They often come with very little or nothing because they’re leaving quickly,” she said.

“For the children to receive a soft toy or something to play with as a welcome to the shelter gift or even a birthday present — because many of them have not been able to celebrate their birthday — so this is really a very emotional time for us.”

The annual event has raised almost $2,000 for the Harbour House along with more than 100 stuffed toys.

Wittke said all the items donated will go towards putting the smiles back on the faces of children at the facility.