When organizers kick-started the Sugar 4 Kids program in 2016, their goal was to brighten the holiday spirits of underprivileged children living in West Perrine.
This year, however, the program is brightening their futures, too.
Nearly 1,500 toys will be handed out at the conclusion of a police-escorted motorcycle and vehicle ride to West Perrine Park on Dec. 9 for the Second Annual Sugar 4 Kids Toy Drive.
But the organization’s focus this year, says Sugar 4 Kids Board Member Linda Peterson, is to raise enough funds to buy 1,000 laptops and tablets, preinstalled with Microsoft Word, for middle-school-bound West Perrine students.
“Many of these children are without the ability to do homework on a laptop,” said Peterson, co-owner of Peterson’s Harley-Davidson South. “An educational product is as important as—or even more important than—a toy.”
To help raise funds, Peterson’s Harley-Davidson South is raffling off a 2018 Harley-Davidson Sportster Iron 883 motorcycle. Tickets cost $50 each and are limited to 200. The motorcycle, with its blacked-out, stripped-down custom style, features a tuck-and-roll seat, black cast-aluminum wheels with machined highlights, and blacked-out surfaces from fender to fender.
Any support from the community is welcome, said Peterson, who approached several business associations in Palmetto Bay and Cutler Bay for participation. BNI Business Leaders and Rubenstein Law, which is donating 100 laptops, are among the drive’s earliest supporters this year.
The long-term goal, said Sugar 4 Kids CEO Mary Faison, is to foster widespread community involvement and a dedicated support system of local businesses, organizations, residents and municipalities.
“Anyone can go to a store and buy toys and give them to a family,” said Faison. “But in what way does that give children a sense of hope for tomorrow? We want to let these children know that they’re not only loved, but that we believe they can be great.”
Sugar 4 Kids was founded last year when Faison, a West Perrine resident and longtime Peterson’s Harley-Davidson South customer, visited the dealership to help Drew and Linda Peterson during one of their many annual toy drives.
“She asked about bringing toys to children in West Perrine,” said Peterson. “We saw a need in that area, where people could use a little extra help, and decided to join the Sugar 4 Kids Board of Directors to support the charity with Mary.”
In less than a month, Sugar 4 Kids had raised enough money to purchase 250 bicycles, 80 tablets, and more than 1,500 toys – benefitting close to 1,000 children. The day of the ride, more than 350 motorcycles gathered together for the short ride to West Perrine Park, according to Peterson.
“God be all the glory, it was the shortest four weeks, but also the greatest toy drive the kids in West Perrine had ever seen,” said Faison.
Although West Perrine is outside the boundaries of Palmetto Bay, some councilmembers and neighbors donated to the inaugural Sugar 4 Kids Toy Drive when Peterson and Faison spoke at a village council meeting.
And this year, according to Peterson, the village furthered its support by hosting several fundraising events and toy collections, through an official endorsement by Councilman David Singer on behalf of the entire council.
“We could easily have had two sponsors—a car dealership and Rubenstein Law—raised $10,000 that will cover everything and be good to go,” Peterson said. “But that doesn’t touch people’s hearts or shine a light on the big picture. It’s a quick band-aid, and then—poof—it’s gone until next year. Sugar 4 Kids needs sustainability and visibility, and that’s what we’re working toward.”
The second annual Sugar 4 Kids Toy Drive police-escorted ride is on Saturday, Dec. 9, starting at Peterson’s Harley-Davidson South, 19825 S. Dixie Hwy., and ending at West Perrine Park, 10301 SW 170th Terr.
Registration, beginning at 8 a.m., costs $10 and an unwrapped toy. The ride officially begins at 9:30 a.m. Complimentary coffee and doughnuts will be served. Everyone—and varieties of vehicles—are encouraged to participate in the ride and hand-deliver toys to kids.
For information and to purchase raffle tickets, visit petersonsharley.com/toydrive or call 305-235-4023.