BELOIT—The Rising Queens, official coordinators for the Marine Corps Toys for Tots Drive for all kids in Rock County, are preparing a kickoff event on Oct. 2 and will be hosting a presentation about their new after-school program on Oct. 6.
The Marine Corps Toys for Tots Drive event and accompanying motorcycle parade will be held from 2-6 p.m. at Jones Pavilion in Riverside Park. People can drop off toys during the festivities which will include a bounce house, DJ, hot dogs and juice for kids and barbecued ribs, according to Rising Queens Co-founders Tracy Dumas and Nikita Pittman.
“We want the community to come out, not just drop a toy, but engage with each other and get together,” Dumas said.
The toy drive event is hosted by Rising Queens and sponsored by Community Action, Inc.
At about 2:30 p.m. a motorcycle parade will leave from the park, tour through the Merrill Neighborhood and then return. The route is as follows: up White Avenue to Park Avenue to Keeler Avenue and then to Porter Avenue, Summit Street, Dewey and Henry avenues and back to Riverside Park.
Bikers such as Crystal Garmon are eager to show off her Harley and maybe inspire a few women to get their license.
“Anything that involves community and kids and getting the community where it used to be, I’m in for that,” Garmon said.
Carl Davidson, who also rides a Harley will be attending as part of the Rare Breed Motorcycle Club. Rare Breed, which has 23 chapters in 24 states, often supports charity projects benefiting kids, the elderly and those with special needs. Davidson plans to call upon his fellow riders from Rare Breed and other clubs to join the parade to show support.
“I’m excited we are able to partner up with these two extraordinary community members and reach out to other bikers to make it possible for our community,” Davidson said.
Any motorcyclist is welcome to participate, but they are asked to register ahead of time by calling Dumas at 608-346-1296.
Toys will be accepted for ages 0 to 18. Dumas said the most needy age group is for 5 to 14-year-olds. The toys must be new and unwrapped.
Dumas said 2018 marked the last year for a Marine Corps Toys for Tots Drive in Rock County. For one year the organization was without a coordinator and then COVID-19 hit. The Rising Queens have been selected as the coordinators with Dumas set to go to Quantico, Virginia for a four-day training on administering the program with the Marines Toys for Tots Foundation.
The goal is to collect 5,000 to 10,000 toys. There will be a pickup day for toys on Dec. 11 from 8 a.m. to noon at a soon-to-be-chosen location. From Oct. 1-16 families sign up for the toys at https://beloit-wi.toysfortots.org.
Dumas said the pandemic hit many people in the pocketbook this past year.
“This is about everyone coming together to make this the best Christmas for our youth,” Dumas added.
Central Christian Church will be a drop location and is helping collect toys and working on logistics.
On Tuesday, Pittman gave an update on the Y project, an after school program. The Rising Queen are partnering with the Beloit Public Library and Fill the Void Mentoring with Kevin Young to hold the program from 4-5:30 p.m. on Monday through Thursdays. The Rising Queens will be holding an informational session on Oct. 6 at 6 p.m. at the Beloit Public Library for interested families. The program is based on one which Pittman and Dumas ran in Florida from 2011-2017 which focuses on academics, job skills and financial literacy for fourth through eighth graders. For more information people can visit www.theyproject.org.
The Rising Queens fed the homeless in July, hosted a free laundry day for 26 families in August, and delivered seniors breakfast in September. The toy drive is set for Oct. 2 and the group will be delivering “blessing baskets” of personal items to nursing homes in December. They are also offering monthly free workshops at the library on financial education and planning for Juneteenth 2022.
“Sign up to be a Rising Queen,” Pittman said.
For more information people can visit https://risingqueensinc.com.