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Toy drive is dear to women's motorcycle club
[December 03, 2012]

Toy drive is dear to women's motorcycle club

Dec 03, 2012 (The Charlotte Observer - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Her name is Tonya Robinson, but when she's on her Honda CBR motorcycle she is Diamond Princess.

And on Saturday, she'll pack saddlebags full of presents alongside SweetCheeks, Shyntasty, BossLady, WettWett and MadameSummer and at least one hundred other bikers, bound for the Salvation Army.

Robinson, 37, is the president of T.H.Y.C.K.E. Madames, a social club of women who love to ride motorcycles and give to charity.

This will be the group's third toy drive to benefit the Salvation Army, which collects presents to give to local children who would otherwise go without.

The Madames' first drive drew only about 25 bikers. But last year, about 150 bikers came from as far away as Virginia and Atlanta to collect more than 300 presents and $100 in cash.

"I'm looking for better and more this year," Robinson said.

Toys have been collected at a number of sites around Charlotte over the past few weeks, including Royal Motorcycle, Chariot of Thunder Clubhouse and two Charlotte Area Transit System locations.

This year's "Magical Toy Ride" will begin Saturday morning at the PX Cafe at 1250 Lucky Penny St., near Interstate 85 and Freedom Drive. The bikers will roll onto Interstate 77 at 11:30 a.m. and head toward the Salvation Army Christmas Center on Arrowood Road.

They'll unload the presents at the Salvation Army's Christmas Bureau, which expects to help 14,000 children in the Charlotte area this Christmas. The Observer's Empty Stocking Fund also supports the program.

Robinson started the club in July 2007 after being inspired by female bikers at a bike rally. The idea for the club came to her while standing in her front yard with SweetCheeks.

"I said, 'I won't go back on the back of nobody's bike no more,'" Robinson said. "And we've been rolling ever since." Since the group is mostly made up of single mothers, children were an obvious priority. The group does a juvenile diabetes charity ride in April and a back-to-school drive in August. The Madames' charity events are specifically geared to help newborns through age 15.

But the Madames have a special connection to the toy drive. When Robinson moved to Charlotte from Wadesboro in 1998, she leaned on the Salvation Army Christmas Bureau for help with gifts for her three children, who are now 23, 18 and 15.

"There's a lot of kids that are out here that need help," she said. "We have several other charities, but this is one that's dear to my heart." Dunn: 704-358-5235 Twitter: @andrew_dunn ___ (c)2012 The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, N.C.) Visit The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, N.C.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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