Despite the rain and wind on Sunday morning, The East Coast Car Association held its 15th annual Toys for Tots Run to St. Mary’s Hospital in Bayside. With Santa Claus himself in attendance, the Forest Park Bandshell parking lot was certainly a place to find holiday cheer and the spirit of giving, as well as some incredible cars.
The ECCA was originally started up by a man named Ed Walter in 1999. He passed away in 2007, but his dedication and passion is carried on by the other members of the organization.
“He was very dedicated to what he was doing and so we decided to keep it going,” commented Bob Widdows, president of the club.
From April to November, money is raised through car shows and cruise nights. With just a few dollars’ entry fee to the events, many people come to see the cars and to have fun on Tuesday nights on the cruise. Every dollar counts though, and since its startup the group has raised over $100,000 for the cause.
“Ed originally wanted to donate to an orphanage, but there was no such thing at the time, so he decided to go to St. Mary’s instead,” commented Widdows.
St. Mary’s Hospital is dedicated to children with special needs and life-limiting conditions.
“It’s a wonderful thing, it’s very fulfilling to see those children get gifts … it’s beautiful, it really is beautiful,” said Judy Mecabe, a participant in the toy run.
Last year the event was a little different because of Hurricane Sandy and the damage it did to the area. The club could not use the same meeting spot because of all the downed trees. Everyone just drove over to St. Mary’s on their own.
On Sunday, with NYPD Highway Patrol 3 escorting them, the members were very organized as well over 20 cars and motorcycles proceeded together to the hospital.
The car shows happen from April ’til November, and many people who come out to see the classic rides also participate in the toy run. The event is the big finale of the year. Participants go to St. Marys and present the hospital with a check, along with any toys people have for the kids
“We’re all like Santa Clauses for the last show of the year,” said ECCA Vice President Lou Buglione.