Bikers give toys to needy

Israel Reynosa, 11 months old, watches the action Saturday afternoon as area bikers prepare for the annual High Plains Harley-Davidson toy run. (Staff photo: Sharna Johnson)

By Marlena Hartz: CNJ staff writer

A pair of dark, sleek shades covered his eyes; a pair of thick, black leather chaps his jean-clad legs; a bandana his hair. With a handsome 2003 Harley-Davidson Road Glide by his side, George Sena appears every bit a stereotypical, hardened biker.

A purchase he recently made, however, belies the tough exterior.

“I bought a toy purse with a (stuffed-animal) puppy inside,” Sena said, the description evoking a smile.

The Fort Sumner resident didn’t buy the purse for himself. He and his 14-year-old son, Daniel, were among hundreds of bikers who participated Saturday in the High Plains Harley-Davidson toy drive, dubbed “Operation Santa Claus.”

Participants donated toys to the Clovis Children, Youth, and Families Department and rode their bikes a little more than two miles from the High Plains Harley to Elk’s Lodge No. 1244. The toys will be distributed by CYFD to local families in need through the Hartley House and the Oasis Children’s Advocate Center, according to High Plains Harley-Davidson office manager Barbara Hilgenfeld.

“This event gives toys to a lot needy kids who wouldn’t have them otherwise,” said Hilgenfeld, the metallic sheen of many motorcycles behind her.

The thick pack of riders traveled down Mabry Drive and onto Sycamore Street with two police escorts shielding them from other traffic. For safety reasons, Hilgenfeld said the riders occupied only the right lane of the road.

Novice rider Garrett Mitchell stood with his hands in his pocket, minutes prior to the start of the town tour to the Elk’s Lodge. He began riding three years ago. He said he enjoyed the opportunity to combine his passion for motorcycles with the chance to give.

“It’s a perfect combination,” Mitchell said.