Thanks to the efforts of dozens of generous fishing and boating enthusiasts, and some caring local citizens, more than 1,500 at-risk children on the central coast of Texas will be enjoying a very happy Christmas again this year. Bill Bahr, one of our Achilles Group associates, and his wife Marci have participated in the annual “Toy Run” for 10 out of the last 15 years. This year, the employees at Achilles Group were able to make their own generous donations to help Bill and Marci.
Annually, for the past 14 years, these intrepid Toy Run volunteers have been making the 80-mile boat trip from Freeport down the Intracoastal Waterway and across Matagorda Bay, to Port O’Connor in good weather and in terrible weather, to bring boat-loads of donated toys for at-risk children in the Matagorda, Port O’Connor and Seadrift communities. These coastal communities have almost no tax base and therefore very little local financial support to help the various foster care, children’s protective services, orphanages, and other at-risk facilities provide shelter, food, and clothing – much fewer toys, to hundreds of children.
This year more than 40 boats arrived in Port O’Connor on December 2 with an estimated $125,000 worth of donated toys for kids ages 3 through 15. There were so many boats with so many toys, they couldn’t all be unloaded at The Inn at Clark’s docks. Many had to dock at neighboring Caracol Marina and carry the toys to the awaiting trailers at Clark’s. As usual, quite a number of Port O’Connor locals were on hand to help with unloading the toys and reloading them into trailers for transport to the POC community center where the toys are then sorted and transported to their final destinations.
The toys brought by the Toy Run covered the gamut of nearly anything a child could wish for. Everything from hula hoops to fishing poles, art supplies, dress-up stuff, games, balls, dolls, stuffed animals and toddler toys. There were even 75 shiny new bicycles. The toys were distributed through The Harbor; the Calhoun Sheriff’s Dept.’s Brown Santa; Grace Episcopal Church; Foster Care of Edna/Calhoun County; and 10 other coastal agencies. Bill says “it’s a lot of work, and the kids we support never see us do what we do, but that is part of the Toy Run’s magic.”