By Debbi Elmore
The roar of motors shatters the Sunday quiet on a south Wichita street. Within moments, the first motorcycles appear. The Six Two Riding Club has arrived for its annual toy delivery to the North Pole Express.
Once they arrive, the bikers line up to form a human chain to unload the gifts from the van that followed them to 1841 S. Glenn.
Neighbors spill out of their homes to get a look. This is the sixth year for the delivery, which takes place on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, so they are familiar with it.
Colin Grimes, president of Six Two, says they first heard about the North Pole Express from the wife of one of their members. “She is a teacher at Ray Woodman,” he said. “We were looking for local projects.”
After checking it out, they discovered the North Pole Express is entirely funded by donations to the C.L.A.U.S. Foundation, and decided to adopt it. Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday during the holiday season, children who visit get a photograph with Santa and a free toy while enjoying his elves, workshop, a sleigh and nativity scene.
Grimes said Six Two members’ involvement started by decorating and placing U-Haul boxes in local businesses, inviting people to donate their gently used stuffed animals. The first year, they amassed about 1,000 toys. After a few years, that line of donation seemed exhausted so they started raising money to buy new toys.
The club made Santa an honorary member, with his own vest and badge crafted from a Christmas stocking. They also helped him finish work on his North Pole Express. With a diverse membership including contractors, electricians and other professionals, they had no trouble mustering the manpower and muscle needed.
Six Two sponsors three other major projects and several smaller ones. Throughout the year, members visit clients at The ARC of Sedgwick County. They go to The ARC’s outings at OJ Watson Park, giving the clients rides. They also take them through The Lights on St. Paul each Christmas season.
They support the Leukemia and Lymphoma Association, and Grimes notes one of their members was the LLS Man of the Year in 2018. They contribute to the annual Toys for Tots run and smaller causes requiring funding.
“Every year gets bigger,” Grimes grins. “We love it.”