BILLINGS — For most of us, the thought of Christmas presents under the tree is a given, but for many children that is not the case.
Warming the hearts of children for the holidays is the mission for one local motorcycle club this season.
Stuffed animals, Christmas trees, and bikers? Yes.
For the 35th year, the Billings Road Dogs Motorcycle Club made their pilgrimage to Rimrock Mall bearing gifts for local children.
The goal is to bury the Salvation Army Angel Tree with toys.
"It started with a pickup and four or five motorcylces," said Road Dog member Curly Claus.
"They keep making it taller and taller every year and every year we try to bury it all the way to the star," rider Tyler Wetsch said.
"It gives me a glimpse of community spirit and that compassion isn't dead in the world," Salvation Army's Felecia Pederson said. "I know a lot of times we see the evil that is happening, the dark, bad things happening, but this is truly a reminder that people want to bring change and joy and hope and the Christmas season is a time for people to come together and hopefully it will spark that in us to do it all year around."
The entire community comes together every year for the popular event, from motorcycle clubs to emergency services, ensuring safe roads along the way for all participating.
"Thousands of children will receive a Christmas this year because people went above and beyond to make this happen. I think it's a beautiful thing," Pederson said.
Anyone is invited to ride on the floats, watch from the sidewalks, or lend a hand unloading the semi trucks full of gifts.
"Just joy for people, I love it! I think you can see it on people's faces, they are doing this because they want to help someone else," Pederson said.
The toys are purchased through donations, and funds raised at the Road Dogs Auction, the Friday prior to the event.
"Even though it's the dead of the winter, this is the biggest run for everybody," Wetsch said.
"This may be the only toy they get, and that's what it's all about," Curly Claus said.
Over $60,000 worth of toys were hand selected the day before the run.
"People want to donate and give, and these families that need help a little joy, these kids, they're going to wake up with excitement and joy knowing that there is something under their tree," he said.
They begin their fund raising for next year now.
Families in need can still contact the Salvation Army at 245-4659