Every year, the event has grown, bringing in more cars, more donations and more toys for the children served by the House of New Hope in St. Louisville. “Last year tripled the amount of toys; we brought in 657,” event organizer Josh Moore said. “It’s really grown from the first year.”
Moore and his friends have organized the fourth Cruise for Tots from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday at Target, 270 Central Parkway in Heath.About 500 people have RSVP’d on Facebook, and Moore said many of them will bring their cars, trucks and motorcycles.
After checking out all the cars, participants are invited to go into Target, or another area store, and buy new toys to donate.At 1:15 p.m., drivers will load up the toys and drive them to House of New Hope, with help from local police and fire departments as well as Santa Claus.
“Even if people aren’t interested in cars, they are still welcome to help out,” Moore said.
After donating the toys from the first drive to the Salvation Army, Moore noticed a sign outside the House of New Hope that it also needed toys for Christmas. The organization helps match children who have special needs with foster care and other services. Some of them have been victims of abuse or neglect. Moore, whose mother was adopted, was touched by their mission. “I don’t want to see any kid without a present under the tree,” he said.
This year, House of New Hope has about 120 foster children it needs to provide presents for, said Brenda Pack, director of foster care. Each child provides a wish list, and staff members use presents collected during Cruise for Tots to grant their wishes.
“We are a nonprofit organization,” Pack said. “Without this toy drive, we wouldn’t be able to meet their Christmas wish lists.” The children and their foster families come to House of New Hope for a big Christmas party where they get to unwrap their gifts, she said. “There are no words to express (the feeling) when you watch their eyes light up and they scream, ‘Look what I got. I got what I asked for,’ ” she said
Pack said some of the children at the party have never gotten Christmas gifts before.
“They are jumping up and down,” she said. “We had one foster dad who had to pick up a kid on his bike because he wouldn’t get off it.” On Sunday afternoon, participants in Cruise for Tots will drop off the gifts, with a long parade of cars and fire engines.
“It’s phenomenal. It’s so cool to watch,” Pack said. Moore said he’s thankful the toy drive has been successful and that he hopes it continues to grow. “I think people just like helping out others,” he said. “If one person in the car world does it, then their friends want to do it and it takes off.”