Monday, November 21, 2016

the First Annual Delmarva Toy Run | "Thoughts on Community"

In a couple of hours I'm scheduled to be at a local radio station to talk about an upcoming event. This project grew out of a discussion held at a fish fry a few months ago where the gist of the conversation centered around "we could all come together and make a difference". And thus was born the idea for the First Annual Delmarva Community Toy Run. A suggestion for a radio contact landed me this opportunity to talk publicly about what, when and why - and it's also the reason for me being up before 5AM. I'm a little nervous, making notes and writing myself reminders of what to say in case I'm tongue-tied, and then it occurred to me that perhaps I should just speak from the heart.

From the beginning the focus was on "community and people working together". It was decided that the run would benefit two separate types of collections, one a Toys For Tots drive being held at a small business, and the second, a local program hosted by an area police department. This would give everyone the opportunity to gather at one location for coffee, meet and greet and donate our first toy and then we'd roll out and onto the next stop. Two unique places with distinctly different affiliations and yet both for the same cause. But can we get that message out to everyone? How do we ask people to set aside details such as labels or connections or who they ride with or belong to, and just for a few hours on a Saturday morning, come out to join us as Rick or Angela or Bob?

"It's not about you and it's not about me. It's about what we can do together", stated an image I found and posted online yesterday, and that's the honest truth. So what would I say if someone were to ask me what my hopes or goals were for this event? I would reply that it's to stand there and look out over a variety of people, a blending of individuals and a gathering of vehicles and groups from across the area. NO LINES, no labels. Sometimes I think we forget in our world that "together we can accomplish more", don't you think? We are so busy doing things, attending activities, helping others perhaps, but does it maybe become too much about whose name is up in lights, which logo is represented or who the host is?

Lying in bed thinking a few hours ago, I had thought at this point in the post I'd go into mentioning some of the organizations which we've spoken with, perhaps offer a glimpse of the wide range of groups which have expressed interest and support for the event. And now I've changed my mind on that, because it's not what matters. What matters is the basics; I'm no better than you, that those folks from another town don't care who they ride next to and that we all charge out there to mingle with one another and fill some big boxes with toy donations. Because really, when it comes down to it, we are all part of this place we call home. We are all in this together.

I'm going to mention one more thing that months later, still resonates with me. At a community gathering this past summer, organized to bring members of the neighborhood together, a pastor from a local church spoke out. He encouraged us to work together, reminded us that hate and division solve nothing, and that unity was key for success. And then he offered a small tidbit of advice which stayed with me: "Don't stand with the person you came with", he said. "Walk around and greet your neighbors, meet others, reach out to someone new." A few people shifted uneasily, not quite willing to walk away from their spot or the ones they arrived with, and then I saw a couple of folks begin to drift slowly from where they stood and moved into the crowd - I hoped, to say hello to a stranger and connect with someone else. We tend to cling to what is familiar and safe and often we don't want to go even a little bit out of our comfort zone, and so maybe we don't reach out enough to see someone new and introduce ourselves. Maybe we need more of that. Maybe now is a good time to grow.

We're looking forward to seeing you on Saturday, December 3rd. Please find the how, when, where and so on listed below so you can make your plans and mark your calendars! Remember to invite your friends and neighbors and people you've been wanting to meet.

First Annual Delmarva Community Toy Run

When: Saturday, December 3rd

What: Toy Collection Ride/Run for our local area

Why: An opportunity for members of our community to come together with one purpose, that of supporting local area families and kids.

Where: Our meeting point is the Iron Horse cafe in Willards, MD at 9:30AM. You can grab coffee or a quick breakfast there, mingle and chat with everyone. Our first toy is being given to the owners of the cafe for their Toys for Toys drive.

At 10:30AM we will leave there to ride to the Salisbury Police Department which is approximately 20 minutes away. The second toy donation is for their program which works directly with local area families. There will be a few comments from members of our community and then group photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus. This is a short ride as it's our first time doing this and we wanted to keep it all nice and simple. Remember that you don't need to ride a motorcycle to attend! Cars, trucks, buses.....whatever you drive is welcome to come on out and participate!

For more information please visit the event on Facebook here. See you there!

#delmarvausa • community advocate • localist
believer that "together we accomplish more"