TVLSE, Oklahoma – The Tulsa Creek Indian Community center and Mvskoke Riders teamed up for the second annual Motorcycle Toy Run Saturday, Dec. 3. The toy run started at the TCIC and ended at the Veterans Affairs Services Office. Similar to Toys for Tots, the Mvskoke Riders’ Toy Run is composed of veterans, or strong supporters of veterans, who come together to collect toys to give to children of veterans.
The community center opened its doors to the Riders and its members for a home cooked lunch. A handful of volunteers from the center made stew, chili, beans, and fry bread. Indian Santa also came by and took pictures with everyone.
Johna Gouge, Tulsa Creek Indian Community member, coordinated with the VASO and the center for the event. She thought this was a great way to give back to the veteran community as a military spouse herself.
“I always like giving back to the veterans because of how they treated me as a veteran’s wife,” said Gouge. “They’re dear to my heart and I just wanted to give back to the veterans and the kids, so it’s important to me.”
According to the VASO, roughly 40 riders showed up for the event and over 125 unwrapped gifts were donated to start off the toy drive. The community center donated $500 and some toys for the toy run.
“We have a warrior history even prior to serving in the armed forces, so, it’s something that’s important to Native American communities,” said Paul Bemore, Mvksoke Riders Commander. “Just based on our history alone, it made a lot of sense to honor our veterans.”
“I don’t know of any other tribe that supports their veterans in this regard, in this manner, in this way, so I’m glad to be a part of it,” Bemore continued.
Many citizens came to participate and send off the riders. A few spoke encouraging words and shared their appreciation for veterans including Chief David Hill, Representative Leonard Gouge and TCIC chairman Roman Powell. Vietnam veteran Wotko Long conducted the opening and closing prayers.
“Muscogee veterans are required to appear in person with their MN citizenship card and a copy of their DD-214 (if we do not have a copy on file) to pick out a gift,” said Shawn Taryole, VASO Executive Officer. “Veterans, citizens, and the general public are welcomed and encouraged to donate to the toy drive.”
The Tulsa Creek Indian Community has already offered to be the Mvskoke Riders’ starting point and are looking forward to supporting the veterans and kids again next year.