The Mineral Wells community has stepped up in a big way to make this year’s annual Tommy’s Angel Tree Toy Run one of the most successful ever.

“I’m ecstatic,” organizer James Taylor said. “The phone ain’t quit ringing yet. We’ve never had this kind of return on the effort.”

On a sunny Saturday morning, about 45 bikers, veterans, Mineral Wells fire staff and patrons in vehicles gathered at American Legion Post 75 and Amvets Post 133 for an escorted ride to the Mineral Wells Volunteer Fire Department with a load of toys, bikes and other donations.

Though the physical turnout was about half that in years past, the proceeds more than made up for it — with checks and donations still rolling in, the event topped $4,500 as of Monday night.

“This is historical — almost triple what we usually donate,” Taylor said. “Even with the COVID thing, it hasn’t slowed down.”

The pandemic has actually provided more options for those wishing to give — Taylor said people have called him to arrange for pickup of checks at their home, or left toys and other items on their doorstep for pickup.

Businesses have also stepped up to give to the cause, with Dollar General, AutoWorld Chevrolet, Ram Country, Walmart and Metro Foods IGA providing generosity and sponsorship, Taylor said.

The toy run has been a longstanding tradition in Mineral Wells at Christmas time.

The event was started by firefighter and police officer Tommy Parker, the run’s namesake, as a way to give back to underprivileged kids. In conjunction with the Angel Tree, the toy run involves numerous bikers and veterans that bring toys and bikes to the fire department to deliver.

Parker started purchasing gifts on his own for kids in Mineral Wells back in 1990. He died in the line of duty fighting fire in 1992, but his legacy lives on as his family, firefighters and the community continue to keep the event going.

Donations continue to be accepted, and the community will have another opportunity to contribute, as volunteer gift wrappers are needed at the Steve Purdue Training Center, 300 S. Oak St., from 7-9 p.m. Dec. 14-17. To find out more, call 940-325-7105.

Presents are expected to be delivered around Dec. 19.

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