Panhandlers donate hundreds of toys to hospital

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Stuffed animals go to children in emergency, X-ray departments

Members of the Southeast Alaska Panhandlers Motorcycle Club rumbled their way up to Bartlett Regional Hospital on Friday, hundreds of toys in tow.

The toys were the result of the club’s 24th annual Toy Run, during which members of the club ride through town and collect toy donations at the Douglas Fire Station. Justin Papenbrock, the secretary for the club, said they didn’t have quite as many riders as usual this year due to weather but that didn’t dampen the spirits of people looking to donate toys.

“It was a little rainy, so we didn’t get the following that we usually get,” Papenbrock said, “but people made up for it fairly well at the fire house, with walk-ins and people showing up, still showing good support. That was good. We always cross our fingers for better weather with a larger pack, but we’re always happy to get what we get.”

Hospital employees were on hand Friday when the riders showed up with the toys — they estimated there were at least 500 stuffed animals and other toys — and expressed how thankful they were for the program. The hospital keeps the stuffed animals on hand for upset patients who are in the emergency department or diagnostic imaging (X-ray) department.

The event began nearly a quarter-century ago when club members wanted to collect toys for local children after seeing Toys for Tots do it on a national level.

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