Housing Assistance Corporation Blog

Toy Run Brings Joy to Children in Shelter

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Oct 06, 2017 @ 03:07 PM

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A procession of nearly 200 motorcycles driving from Buzzards Bay over the Bourne Bridge to HAC’s Carriage House shelter in North Falmouth is a sight to behold. And on the first Sunday in November, it happens like clockwork every year. Their mission is simple – spread a little holiday joy to children in HAC’s family shelters.

It’s all part of the Chris Wetherbee Memorial Toy Run which has been taking place for the past 29 years. In 1999, it was named in honor of organizer Christina Wetherbee who died of cancer the following spring.

Since that time, her husband Joe Wetherbee and his second wife Clarissa have taken over the reins, organizing the toy run with the support of the Cape Cod Harley Owners Group (HOG) of Pocasset. “The best part of the day is seeing the bikes show up and the people supporting this,” Joe said. “And then, of course, the look on the kids’ faces because we could have 200 to 250 bikes. To see that many bikes is impressive.”

One of the longest-standing toy runs in the state, the event generates interest from motorcyclists throughout Cape Cod and even off-Cape with some coming from as far away as Boston and Rhode Island. Leading the group every year is Joe Wetherbee who will do so once again next month on his Can-Am Spyder.

Last year, participants delivered over $3,000 worth of toys that went to children in all four of HAC’s family shelters – Carriage House, The Village at Cataumet, Angel House, and Scattered Sites – as well as to children of families in need that HAC serves.

Families are given the gifts for the children to open during the holiday season.

Yvonne Rivers, the facility director at Carriage House, said the gifts come at a time of year when families could use it the most. “The holidays can be tough for our clients, especially because they are in a shelter,” she said.

The toy run serves as a meaningful show of support and kindness delivered by complete strangers on motorcycles. “It’s great to see the joy and smiles on children’s faces,” Rivers said. “The kids love it.”

18th Annual Chris Wetherbee Memorial Toy Run
When: Sunday, November 5
Where: Eagles Hall at 39 Cohasset Avenue, Buzzards Bay
Registration: 8:30-10:30 AM

The run begins at 11 AM, starting at Eagles Hall and ending at Carriage House. Participants are asked to bring a new, unwrapped toy (no stuffed animals or violent toys) or a minimum $10 donation. Those unable to participate in the ride can drop off donations to Cape Cod Harley-Davidson at either 750 MacArthur Boulevard in Pocasset or at 615 Main Street in Hyannis.

As they have in recent years, Seafood Sam’s in Falmouth and Sandwich will provide chili, clam chowder, and hot dogs for participants.

 

Tags: Family Shelter, Carriage House, Chris Wetherbee Memorial Toy Run, Christmas, charitable giving, holiday giving, Clarissa Wetherbee, Joe Wetherbee, Cape Cod Harley Owners Group (HOG)

Toy Run Epitomizes Meaning of the Season

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Mon, Dec 19, 2016 @ 11:24 AM
HOG Run 16-5.jpgMotorcycles make their way onto Old Main Road in North Falmouth, delivering toys to our Carriage House shelter. Over 150 motorcyclists participated in last month's toy run, ensuring our children in shelter will have gifts to open during the holidays. 

What compels people to give to complete strangers during the holidays? “So this guy doesn’t have to work so hard,” Cotuit’s David Andrade joked as Santa Claus walked by him on the first Sunday of November at HAC’s Carriage House shelter in North Falmouth.

It may have been a comment made in jest, but Andrade and over 150 motorcyclists with nothing to gain other than the satisfaction of helping others, did just that as part of the 17th Annual Chris Wetherbee Memorial Toy Run. They came from all over Cape Cod as well as the South Shore, Boston and even Rhode Island to deliver over $3,000 worth of toys that will go to children living in HAC’s shelters as well as $2,600 in monetary donations to support HAC’s housing work on Cape Cod and the islands.

The toy run has actually been taking place for the past 27 years. In 1999, it was named in honor of longtime organizer Christina Wetherbee, who died of cancer the following spring. Since then, her husband, Joe Wetherbee, and his second wife, Clarissa, have organized the run with the help of the Cape Cod Harley Owners Group (HOG).

“It’s all for the children,” Joe said, a statement echoed by several of the ride’s participants. “It is not their fault they are in shelter and a lot of times it is not the parents fault.”

HAC CEO Rick Presbrey expressed his appreciation for those who participated in the toy run as it will help HAC’s three family shelters and bring a little joy to the nearly 50 families staying there over the holidays. “It’s really the beginning of the holiday season for us,” he said. “It gets the spirit going early, and that’s a good thing.”

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To view more pictures from last month's toy run, visit our Facebook page here. And to give to our families in shelter, click here

Tags: Family Shelter, Philanthropy, Carriage House, Chris Wetherbee Memorial Toy Run, charitable giving, holiday giving

16th Annual Chris Wetherbee Memorial Toy Run a Success

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Fri, Dec 11, 2015 @ 12:00 PM
DSC_1257.jpgMotorcyclists make their way to Carriage Housing during this year's toy run.

When you’re a child, there is probably no day filled with more anticipation and promise than Christmas, even to one living in shelter.

And that is why more than 175 people including 135 motorcyclists descended upon HAC’s Carriage House shelter in Falmouth at the beginning of last month. They were armed with toys of all shapes and sizes – Hot Wheels, board games and remote control cars to name a few – that will go to children staying in HAC shelters or its scattered site units this holiday season.

It was all part of the 16th Annual Chris Wetherbee Memorial Toy Run dedicated to spreading a little cheer to those in need.

When asked why it was so important for them to participate in the event, a common refrain from bikers was, “It’s for the children.”

“They deserve a chance in life,” said Matthew Gilbert of New Bedford, who was taking part in his fifth run.

Along with the gifts, participants raised $3,200 that will go to benefit HAC’s shelter program as well as families in need.

HAC CEO Rick Presbrey said the annual toy run “is really the beginning of the holiday season for people at HAC. This brings a deeper meaning to what we’re doing.”

“You have no idea what this means to our children and our clients to look around and know that 175 plus people care about them,” Carriage House facility director Katie Geissler told those in attendance.

DSC_1359.jpgThere were several chapters that came from off-Cape to participate in this year's toy run, including the Boston HOG Chapter.

Organized by the Cape Cod Harley Owners Group (HOG), the holiday ride has been going on for roughly 26 years. In 1999, it was named in honor of Christina Wetherbee, a longtime participant in the event who died of cancer the following spring. Since then, Christina’s husband Joe Wetherbee and his second wife, Clarissa, have overseen the charitable event in her memory.

As they have in the past, participants started their morning off at the Buzzards Bay Eagles Hall before making their way to Carriage House where they were greeted by a cheering crowd that included shelter clients and HAC staff.

Inside the shelter’s kitchen, Bob Courtemanche of Mashpee, Frank Cogliano of Sysco Boston, Mike and Shaun Lewis of Seafood Sam’s in Falmouth, and Jeff Lewis of Seafood Sam’s in Sandwich, prepared chili, clam chowder, hot dogs and warm apple cider for motorcyclists who came as far away as Boston to deliver a truck full of gifts.

They did so to support those like Brianna Sheinis, who has lived at Carriage House with her daughter Taryn, 3, for a little over a year. While Brianna simply wanted a “home for me and my child” this Christmas, she understood her daughter’s holiday wishes would be fulfilled this season by the kindness of complete strangers on motorcycles. “When you’re a kid, you don’t want clothes. You want toys,” she said, admitting that this is something she would have difficulty providing for Taryn. “This is an amazing help. You kind of feel really humbled by it.” 

See more photos of this year's toy run by visiting our Facebook page

Tags: Chris Wetherbee Memorial Toy Run

Toy Run Brings Holiday Cheer to Families in Shelter

Posted by Chris Kazarian on Tue, Dec 23, 2014 @ 05:06 PM

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The calendar said November 2, but the light snow falling on the ground and cold winter breeze made it seem more like December 25.

But it was not solely the weather that added to the festivity of the day. It was the spirit of giving, encompassed by more than 100 motorcyclists who showed up to the Carriage House Shelter in North Falmouth, to show their support of those who are less fortunate.

That charitableness was tied to the 15th Annual Chris Wetherbee Memorial Toy Run, an event in which bikers from on Cape and off gather at the Buzzards Bay Eagles Hall and make the trek to Falmouth to deliver toys to children staying at HAC’s three family shelters - Carriage House, The Village at Cataumet in Bourne, and Angel House in Hyannis.

For the past 25 years the Cape Cod Harley Owners Group (HOG) have been collecting toys and monetary donations every fall to go to the region’s homeless children during the holidays. In 1999, the run was named in honor of Christina Wetherbee, a longtime participant in the annual event.

Though Christina died of cancer in April 2000, her husband Joe Wetherbee and his second wife Clarissa, continue to organize the event in her memory. In addition to the dozens of toys collected, participants raised $1,513, funds that will be distributed to HAC’s shelter programs as well as families in need during the holiday season, including previous clients.

The giving did not end there as Joe commemorated the occasion by donating a handmade wooden rocking horse to Carriage House that he modeled after a motorcycle with a license plate reading, “Mass 15 Toy Run” on the back.

DSC 6547 resized 600Toy run organizer Joe Wetherbee address the crowd. 

“It’s really because of the children. That is why we are here," Joe Wetherbee said. “We try to give them a Christmas.”

Because of the harsh weather the toy run was missing one aspect – the roar of 200 motorcycles driving down Cape roads – that makes the event so impressive. Still HAC CEO Rick Presbrey said it did not diminish from this year’s run. “I thought it was great that so many people were there on such a horrible day,” he said.

East Falmouth’s Steve Webster was the only participant to brave the inclement weather and ride his motorcycle to Carriage House as others wisely chose to drive their cars and trucks. “I’ve been doing this for about 10 years,” Webster said, acknowledging that he does it, like others do, “for the kids. It is a great cause.”

Inside the shelter he was able to warm up with chili, clam chowder, hot dogs, warm apple cider and coffee, provided by Seafood Sam’s of Sandwich and Falmouth as well as Starbucks of Hyannis. Brothers Jeff and Michael Lewis, who own the respective Seafood Sam’s eateries, were joined by Bob Courtemanche of Mashpee, and Chris Lerch of Sysco Boston, in preparing the food.

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As they worked in the kitchen, several clients sat in the Carriage House living room, playing with their children as they waited for participants to arrive. “I think it is awesome,” said Stephanie Anagnos, who is seven months pregnant and was joined by her 20-month old daughter Althea. “I think it is really cool that so many people care about the situation we are in. I appreciate it a lot.”

It was a sentiment her counterparts shared including Brianna Sheinis. This Christmas, she said, her two-year-old daughter Taryn hopes to get more Barbie dolls.

As for what she wants, it is something not found in a store. “I want a safe home,” Brianna said, her voice lingering for a second. “A safe, stable home. Definitely. It would mean the world to me and it would allow my daughter to thrive and mean that I would be safe and comfortable. It is tough having to bounce around, especially with a child. It is very tough.”

Give Your Own Gift to Shelter Clients

Tags: Homeless, Carriage House, Chris Wetherbee Memorial Toy Run

Chris Wetherbee Memorial Toy Run

Posted by Julie Wake on Sat, Dec 01, 2012 @ 09:00 AM

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About 300 motorcyclists rode from Bourne to Falmouth in the 13th annual Chris Wetherbee Memorial Toy Run on Nov. 4. Joined by bikers from across the Cape, the Cape Cod Harley Owners Group collected toys that will be distributed to the children at the Carriage House Shelter in North Falmouth and other family shelters operated by Housing Assistance Corporation.

The toy run was established by Harley Owners Group member Joe Wetherbee in memory of his wife, Chris. Santa Claus led the ride, followed by a trailer full of toys. The riders’ route started in Bourne at the Buzzards Bay Eagles Hall and finished at Carriage House.

“I cannot thank you enough for your contribution of time and toys,” Joe Wetherbee told the crowd, just before Clarissa Wetherbee announced that $3,975 had been collected by the bikers to donate to HAC’s family shelters.

“This is a fantastic event,” said HAC CEO Rick Presbrey. “God bless you for what you do and your care and concern for people in need.”

After the toys were unloaded from the truck and passed hand-to-hand into the shelter, lunch was served, courtesy of donations from local restaurants.

Housing Assistance Corporation is grateful to the following local businesses for their support of the Chris Wetherbee Memorial Toy Run: BJ’s, Seafood Sam’s, Jack in the Beanstalk, Mahoney’s Garden Center, Roche Brothers, Starbucks (Falmouth), Beach Plum Bakery, Taylor Rentals, Windfall Market and Prime Time Pizza.

Tags: housing assistance corporation, Carriage House, Chris Wetherbee Memorial Toy Run