News 12 at 6 o' clock
AUGUSTA, Ga.-- Ripping open gifts on Christmas morning can be one of the best memories for a child, but some military families don't have many gifts to put under the tree.
Local motorcycle groups want to give back.
"To me, it gives me a warm fuzzy feeling. You get goosebumps all the way up," said Rex Bell.
Bell's goosebumps aren't coming from the feeling he gets from riding his motorcycle. They're coming from making sure hundreds of children have something to unwrap on Christmas morning.
"Being a veteran, I realize that military pay isn't all that great. Sometimes it's difficult to put food on the table and buy presents at this time of the year," said Vietnam veteran Larry Dodson.
So 12 years ago, he decided to organize a toy run to give back.
Bikers are asked to bring a new, unwrapped gift for a child or a cash donation of at least $10. Then, they strap the gifts to their bikes and head from Augusta to deliver the toys to the Southeastern Chapter of the Paralyzed Veterans of America (SEPVA) in Hephzibah.
All of the gifts go to the Christmas House at Fort Gordon, which provides children of military families with gifts for the holidays.
Dodson's reason for starting this toy run, he says, is simple.
"The veterans all took an oath to serve, honor, and protect the country," he said. "Just because we're no longer in the military doesn't mean that we can't still serve, honor and protect."
But you don't have to be a veteran to join the fun. Dodsonsays anyone is welcome.
"A lot of these riders are not military. They're here because they have friends or family that served in the military, but they want to support our country, and our military are the ones that are doing that."
The ride kicked off around 1:30 p.m. Sunday at the Augusta Museum of History. After the ride, the presents were collected and the veterans were treated to a warm meal.
The SEPVA provides support and services to disabled veterans in the chapter's five-state area. For additional information, call Dodson at (803) 634-0785 or SEPVA at (706) 796-6301.