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Toy run rumbles through town
Collects hundreds of gifts for children
3 Toy Run pic1
Denise Carnes of Cumming participates in the Buck Jones Memorial Toy Run every year. The event collects toys at stops from Cumming to Dahlonega to help area organizations. - photo by Michele Hester Dawson Community News

Santa and nearly 450 of his elves roared into Dawsonville on Sunday during the annual Buck Jones Memorial Toy Run.

Jones, a former Cumming police chief who also worked for the Dawson County Sheriff's Office, started the toy drive after seeing a lack of charities helping families with presents at Christmas.

Now in its 20th year, the event collects toys at stops from Cumming to Dahlonega to help organizations such as KARE for Kids in Dawsonville provide Christmas presents for children in need.

"Buck Jones was one heck of a fellow," said longtime supporter Gordon Pirkle, a KARE for Kids volunteer. "He's done so much for us over the years, and it's really helped KARE for Kids by bringing all these toys up here."

Jones passed away last year at age 70, but the toy runs continues in his memory, growing bigger each year, according to organizers.

"This might be the biggest group we've had so far," said Pirkle as hundreds of bikers lined up to donate presents to the cause.

Denise Carnes of Cumming rides in the toy run every year.

"The children need toys, so we're here to do what we can," she said as she passed along the toys she brought.

Ken Roostee, a road captain with Killer Creek Harley-Davidson in Alpharetta, organizes and participates in charity rides throughout the year.

"I just love to give back and be a part of something that's bigger than me," he said.

The toys donated Sunday in Dawsonville will benefit KARE for Kids. Those collected at the Cumming Fairgrounds will help Concord Baptist Church provide presents to children in Forsyth County, while the toys given at Lumpkin County High School will benefit foster children in the Dahlonega area.

In addition to toys, the run also raised nearly $2,000 in a 50/50 raffle. The money will be distributed in the three counties, according to organizer Don Parkinson.

"Buck started this 20 years ago with maybe five bikers," he said. "We had 301 motorcycles today and about 450 riders in all.

"We just like to do it. It's a good thing for all the communities."