nbc24.com

EAST TOLEDO, Ohio — Each year, the East Toledo Family Center helps over 200 families have a better Christmas through donations and toy drives.

This year, they partnered with a less traditional organization to give back – the Avengers Motorcycle Club.

For the past 30 years, the Avengers have been donating toys to Harbor Children’s Services through the Bikers of Northwest Ohio Toy Run.

With coronavirus restrictions cancelling the yearly holiday tradition with Harbor, the bikers turned to a new partner, creating another tradition with the East Toledo Family Center.

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“We wanted to do something for the kids in East Toledo. So, we’re benefitting the East Toledo family center. They’ve got over two-hundred families they take care of and they welcomed us with open arms,” said Mike Wenzel, coordinator of the “05” Toy Drive.

In just five weeks, the Avengers collected bikes, games, toys, and even food, for the first annual “05” toy drive, named for East Toledo’s zip code.

“If you Google us, the first thing you’re going to see is the negatives about motorcycle clubs, and we want to give something back and let them know that we do do positive things, also,” explained Kevin Stahl, a member of Avengers MC.

Jodi Gross, the executive director of the East Toledo Family Center, says she was surprised when the Avengers reached out.

“It’s a little bit untraditional if you look at it, but at the end of the day, it’s a partnership that’s going to blossom,” Gross said.

In a year that has put so many more people at risk of losing a typical Christmas, the Avengers are hoping their efforts go a long way this holiday season.

“Everybody wants to take. It don’t hurt to give back. They’re kids. A lot of them need a fair shake and a chance, and if we can put a smile on their face and a ham dinner on their table…We did well,” Wenzel said.

The Avengers are collecting bikes, toys, books, and games (WNWO).

Gross and her staff are beyond thankful for their newfound, “untraditional” partners.

“The goodness in people is still there. It may appear that because we’re under this pandemic that people aren’t giving, but they are,” she said.

The Avengers are hoping to resume the Harbor toy drive next year.

You can donate to the “05” Toy Run by bringing an unwrapped gift to Ape Hangers East Side Saloon at 531 Oak Street in East Toledo.

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