Hope Lopez-Sanders, that is.
The 55-year-old Oakley resident and Harley rider is organizing the third annual Main Street Community Toy Run, which takes place for the first time in downtown Brentwood at La Fuente Mexican Restaurant.
The Nov. 5 event will feature a car show, raffles, prizes, live music, a bike show, vendor stands, bike games and a play area for the kids. Organizers are looking for more riders, volunteers and donors to pull it all off.
The inspiration for the run, Lopez-Sanders said, came from hearing about others’ struggles, especially since the economy tanked – and especially since the far East Bay region is among the hardest-hit in the nation. The event will help families in Knightsen, Bethel Island, Brentwood, Oakley, Byron and Discovery Bay.
“I feel how hard it is out there,” she said. “My house is underwater, too … and I grew up poor, so I understand.”
Lopez-Sanders’ dad was a tile worker who moved his family around for the job before finally settling down in Oakland. That meant enrolling his kids in a new school nearly every year and teaching them the rushed art of moving.
“I always say that if anyone needs help moving, they should call my family because we can pack it all up in 20 minutes,” Lopez-Sanders joked.
Some years, she never got presents but learned to enjoy the holidays as a time for family and hospitality.“I grew up learning that this wasn’t a time for materialism,” said Lopez-Sanders, an in-home care provider by trade and full-time philanthropist in her off-hours. “But at the same time, I know how special it can be to give a child a gift. I’m blessed that I get to buy stuff for my family this year.”
Lopez-Sanders turned to local family and youth support nonprofits Family Life Center of Brentwood and Giant Step for help co-sponsoring the event. About 200 bikers turned out last year and organizers are hoping for at least that much or more this time around.
“My vision is to make this a recurring annual event,” Lopez-Sanders said. “A lot of charities they help people outside of our community, people we never meet. But this one helps people who could be our neighbors.”
For many local parents, the gifts from the toy run are the only ones they can afford to give their kids. And those gifts are given for the parents to present to their kids themselves – so they can say they got it for them.
“We don’t want the kids to think that some strangers bought them presents,” Lopez-Sanders said. “This is a gift for the parents, too. A gift for them to be able to do this for their families.”
Main Street Community Toy Run begins at 9 a.m. with registration for bikers. The ride begins at 10 a.m., lunch is served at 11 a.m., and raffle and door prizes are called out at 1 p.m.
La Fuente Mexican Restaurant is located at 642 First St. in Brentwood. The $20 entry fee for riders includes patches, a door prize tag and one raffle ticket. Admission to the Mexican buffet lunch is $15; $12 for children. For more information, call Linda Pacheco at 925-565-3746.