We're always happy to report on anything that highlights the wonderful sense of community we enjoy in the European tuning scene, and there are already several examples in this issue. One of the most selfless acts carried out by European car enthusiasts are the many toy drives that happen across the country.
For those who don't know, Toys For Tots is a charity run by the Marine Corps and USMC Reserves (toysfortots.org). The aim is to collect toys for under-privileged kids in the community to spread a little Christmas joy. You can donate money to the charity or personally deliver toys to the numerous collection locations around the country.
We've heard of several Toys For Tots events around the country and decided to join the Central Pennsylvania VW/Audi Enthusiasts on their Toys For Tots Cruise '09.
Organized by Brian and Rachel Shertzer for the past four years, it's grown from 70 cars in '05 to around 250 cars and 500 people in '09.
It draws most of its participants from the members of the Central Pennsylvania VW/Audi Enthusiasts forum (cepavw.org) but Brian told us cars drove up from MD, NY and Western PA to join in the fun. In fact, a growing number of enthusiasts claim the Toys For Tots Cruise is their favorite event of the year and even start collecting toys in the summer.
To participate, you simply had to bring a toy to the Hollywood Casino at the Penn National Race Course in Grantville, PA. They gathered from 9-12pm, which gave people a chance to catch up with old friends, swap stories, compare toys and enjoy the unseasonably warm 65° sunny weather.
From there, they cruised about 15 miles to the USMC Reserves Center in Harrisburg, where they were greeted by Sgt Adam Krick.
The cruise highlighted two of Brian's original aims, which was both to contribute something to the community, but also to undermine the negative stereotypes associated with modified car ownership.
Everybody talked about how much fun they had on the cruise. It was led by Brian, who told us he exited the freeway in Harrisburg as the final cars were entering it in Grantville, some 14 miles away - that's quite a caravan!
Once they all arrived, the cruisers filled about 25 large donation boxes with more than 2500 toys, ranging from Hot Wheels to rocking horses and bicycles. This doubled last year's contribution and guaranteed a great Christmas for local children.
There was definitely more to come, though. Everybody sat down to a catered lunch, and proceeds went to the charity. Then they held a raffle with items provided by around 30 local stores and specialists such as Euro Auto Source, 4EverKustoms, TMTuning, fsquared, APTuning and a bunch more.
The star raffle prize was a '96 Jetta 2.0 manual, which Brian donated. It had been his parent's car but the tranny locked, so local shops donated parts and labor to get the car running again, sprucing up the interior adding new wheels, etc.
A delighted Sheri Zeiders from Freeburg, PA won the car. As it transpired, her Corrado had died the week before and she was looking for a new daily driver. So the Jetta went to a deserving cause!
With the money collected from the raffle, lunch, donations and T-shirt sales, the Toys For Tots Cruise '09 contributed an additional $4314 to the charity.
The fun didn't stop there. Brian's sons, Cole and Doyle each presented a "Coyle Award" to their favorite cars. This year, Cole's went to Craig Thompson's tan Mk1 Rabbit on Panasport wheels, while Doyle's went to Kris Warbie's green-n-grey Super Beetle.
As a final note, Brian would like to thank Rachel, Doyle and Cole, as well as his sister-in-law, Jessica. He also wanted to acknowledge Jordan, Ray, Shane, Aaron, Ryan, Longhair, Angie, Kristy, Amanda and Bekah who all helped to restore the Jetta.
Sadly, Brian lost his job at Thanksgiving, so we hope he's back on his feet soon or we'll be looking for volunteers to attend Shertzer Cruise 2010!