Everyone has heard the term touched by an angel, but when is the last time you reached for one? Christmas is one of the most beautiful times of the year, however, it can also be the most challenging for some families. This past Saturday, December 4th, 2021, The Tommy’s Angel Tree Toy Run took place with unbelievable success. The participants, donations, and volunteers have truly brought the gift of giving to hundreds of children throughout Mineral Wells.
Tommy’s Angel Tree originally began with Tommy Parker, a local police officer and volunteer firefighter in the early 1990s, but his legacy has turned into so much more. Today, the participant who makes this possible is his family member Connie Parker who runs Tommy’s Angel Tree. James Taylor and his wife Shannon Taylor organize the toy run itself. They began this amazing journey of selflessness in 2004, and have continued to do so for every little girl and boy in our community. James first became involved in 1998 when he assisted with a toy run hosted by The Last Few, a motorcycle club. It was this experience that changed his life.
He remembers. “I got dressed up as Santa and delivered these toys to a little girl and boy. To see their faces warmed my heart because they were GOING to have a Christmas. So, I helped with the toy run again the next year and the year after that.”
James had a lot of help getting started in participating in the toy run from the motorcycle club and Smitty Cycles, but now it is just him and his wife that organize so much for countless children.
James explains this is an all-year-round process, and he is grateful for all the donations received big or small, no gift goes unappreciated. “If it wasn’t for everybody donating, whether it’s cash, toys, or time… some of these children just wouldn’t get anything.” So far, they have had donations from, Autoworld Chevrolet, RAM Country Dodge, The Cellar Fine Wine and Spirits, Dollar General, Amvets Post 133, Midpoint Chapel in Millsap, and many more anonymous donations. Also, there have been a total of fifty bicycles bought as gifts, and three trucks full of toys. A $652 donation came from the 50/50 raffle winner who donated her winnings back to the toy run. A total of $2,978.00 was donated so far to the Tommy’s Angel Tree Toy Run from close to eighty bikers and local businesses!
I asked James what his fondest delivery was, so he painted a storybook picture. “The biggest one I remember is the little girl named Ray-Anna back in 1998. I pulled up on a motorcycle in her front yard with a luggage rack full of toys and clothes for her. That’s what really always sticks in my mind. Just absolute amazement. It’s just a face that I’ll never forget. The big rumble of motorcycles out in front of their house and Santa is bringing toys. Who doesn’t like that?”
This toy run has and will always take place the Saturday after the Merry Wells Christmas Parade, James explains. There will be anywhere from sixty to one hundred and twenty bikes, jeeps, and hot rods to donate, assist, and deliver these toys with a Fire Department escort through town. This will take place rain or shine for all the children of Mineral Wells. Regular Participate Mike Tuggle tells about one of his experiences, “We went around last year to deliver toys. The last few we did had to pick up loads of toys to just surprise people. We would just walk up knock on the door and then just fill the living room up with gifts. It’s was awesome”.
Shannon wants people to know and realize how important this toy run is to our community. She says, “There’s a lot of underprivileged children that would not have Christmas If we didn’t do what we do.” James puts it very simply in the most humble of ways, “Its Mineral Wells, giving back to Mineral Wells. I cannot express my gratitude enough for the riders and everybody who came together to make this a possibility for another year!”
But; just because the toy run is over doesn’t mean you still can’t make a difference. There is plenty to do before Christmas for more information on volunteering to wrap gifts, make deliveries, or give a donation feel free to contact James Taylor directly at 940-327-0531. Merry Christmas, during the most blessed time of the year.
Writer | I graduated from Weatherford College with an Associates in Art, focusing on history, creative writings, sociology, and humanities. Experience in child development, client care, and runs local Spoken Word Poetry group for young teens.