When compassion, honor and purpose meet, great things happen. Paul Caputo embodies these traits and his mission of ensuring every child in New Mexico has a toy for Christmas turns this Marine and retired police officer into Santa every year. And under his guidance as a motorcyclist and Toys for Tots state coordinator, last year more than 12,000 toys were distributed to kids in the state.
October 22 Marks 19 Years of Helping Kids at Christmas
On Oct. 22, join Toys for Tots, the Law Tigers and Coyote 102.5 for the 19th Annual Toys for Tots Anniversary Run. The police-led parade will feature hundreds of motorcyclists making their way from Walmart in Bernalillo to Thunderbird Harley-Davidson®. Registration begins at 9 a.m., with KSU at Noon for the escorted ride. Bring a new, unwrapped toy (or a $20 donation) and enjoy the family-friendly after party, complete with a visit from Santa. There will be free hot dogs, sodas, and music at the dealership.
Caputo is also the New Mexico chapter president of the Brotherhood of Marine Corps Riders in addition to his charity work with Toys for Tots. He said bringing together the motorcycle community behind an event such as a Toys for Tots drive shows the dedication riders have in bettering the lives of others.
“When we come together for an event like this, it shows the community we are here to do good,” Caputo said. “We’ve never had an issue at our events because they are all focused on the kids – making sure they are taken care of, and have a toy to unwrap on Christmas morning.”
Caputo credits the hundreds of volunteers for making each toy drive season a success, often raising more money and toys than needed. Those extra toys are then distributed across the state to hospitals, police and fire departments, homeless shelters and more, so every child in the state has a promise of a gift, he said.
“I am adopted, so I understand what it’s like to come from a situation where things are tight around the holidays,” Caputo said. “Imagine being a single parent of 8- and 9-year-old children, who on Christmas morning, rush downstairs to open the curtains so they can watch the other kids in the neighborhood with their Christmas toys, while they have none. We want kids in our community to have a toy on Christmas. We have a great community here of riders and people who care so much about kids, we always meet and exceed our goals. It is a mutual effort among us riders, first responders and veterans in the community.”
During Caputo’s first year as state coordinator, 35 families received toys. That number has since swelled to more than 7,000, with many families needing aid as the economy worsens. This makes the toy drive and donation efforts even more critical: and makes Caputo all the more determined to make a difference in his community.
“You know, it’s more than just handing a child a toy on Christmas,” Caputo said. “It’s about telling a child they matter, and telling them ‘We believe in you.’ There are always more kids to help. I belong to a community of riders who deeply care about the community they live in. I don’t do anything special. I just do what’s right. And what’s right is making sure a child has a toy at Christmas.”
Thunderbird Harley-Davidson is located at 5000 Alameda Blvd. NE in Albuquerque, NM, and the Walmart is located at 460 NM-528, Bernalillo, NM. Toys and cash donations can be made during the event, or at one of the other events in the state. Check the New Mexico Toys for Tots website for more ways to help.
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