OCEAN CITY – Nearly 130 participants and more than 50 Jeeps came out to the beaches of Ocean City this week to support a charitable event.
On Sunday, Nov. 18, the Ocean City Jeep Club hosted its second annual Toys for Tots Run. As part of the event, more than 50 Jeeps entered the beach at the Inlet and drove to The Kite Loft on 5th Street to drop off more than 300 toys for the Toys for Tots program, which is sponsored and organized annually by the Marine Corps Reserve.
Mike Locke, president of the Ocean City Jeep Club, said he was pleased by this year’s turnout.
“It was definitely more successful than last year,” he said. “The larger our group grows the more we can do for local charities.”
Each year, the Ocean City Jeep Club and its 389 members support several local nonprofits through donations and fundraising events, including the Worcester County Humane Society Annual Run, the Annual Gift Basket Raffle and the Toys for Tots Annual Run.
Locke said the club launched its annual Toys for Tots drive last year with the help of The Kite Loft owner and club member Jay Knerr.
“We found out early last year that The Kite Loft was a Toys for Tots drop-off spot,” he said. “When I told them our interest in dropping off toys there, Jay came up with a great idea of going before the Mayor and Council and asking to drive the Jeeps on the beach as part of the event, and they approved it.”
For his part, Knerr said he was happy to support the event.
“The Jeep Club, as a whole, is a great organization and they do a lot of charity events and raise a lot of money in our county,” he said. “It’s a great group of people, so we are happy to be part of it.”
Knerr noted that this year’s event brought in twice as many toy donations, more participation and new club members.
“Everybody had a great time parading down the beach as we were escorted by the Ocean City Police Department beach vehicle and the Ocean City Beach Patrol,” he said. “Last year we had about 30 Jeeps and we collected about half as many toys. So this is definitely moving in the right direction.”
Knerr said the toys that were collected on Sunday have been delivered to a local Toys for Tots representative, who will distribute them to local families.
“They will benefit Worcester County families, which is great,” he said. “There will be a lot of happy kids this Christmas.”
Knerr highlighted the importance of the annual Toys for Tots Run.
“It helps so many families that couldn’t afford to have a happy Christmas for their kids …,” he said. “So this event really brings it all home when these toys are distributed. It puts a smile on a child’s face and makes it all worthwhile.”
“We know there are a lot of families in Worcester County that don’t have the means to provide Christmas gifts,” he said. “When you think about these kids waking up on Christmas it puts a smile on our faces. Some that might not have had toys now have toys.”