Surrounded by bicycles are toy drive organizers from left Cathy MacKinnon, Becky Griffin, HomeownersAssociation president, and Phil Wrobel, vice president.
INDIAN ROCKS BEACH – If there is one thing Cathy MacKinnon likes, it is to reach a goal. MacKinnon, or Cathy Mac as she is known, is the driving force behind the annual Indian Rocks Beach Homeowners Association toy drive. Her goal is about the number of bicycles she can collect for children in need.
“Last year we collected 32 bikes,” she said. “This year I wanted to double that, we’re getting close.”
MacKinnon made that comment just before the homeowners gathered for their annual holiday social at Century 21 Beggins offices on Gulf Boulevard Dec. 11.
Soon after everyone gathered MacKinnon announced that the goal had been met.
“We got a few scooters so we’re going to count them in, we made it to 64,” she said.
The toy drive began seven years ago and it has changed considerably since then, said President Becky Griffin.
“The first time we held the toy drive was in Chic-A-Si Park, it was an old-fashioned social with popcorn and movies on the big screen,” she said. “We decorated the whole park. It was very Mayberry.”
Then she said Beggins stepped in and made their lives easier.
“Three years ago we moved to Beggins and we don’t have to do nearly the work. Cathy Mac does it all,” she said.
In addition to the effort by Beggins, Griffin said other sponsors are crucial to the success of the event. JD’s donated over $700, the Homeowners themselves $1,000, and numerous others chipped in, including several eateries who supplied goodies for the social itself.
This year the bikes and other toys are divided into two charities.
“Gift cards and toys will be going to Grace House, a shelter for homeless families,” said Griffin. “The other half will go to the American Legion which is helping families at MacDill Air Force Base. They are families of people who are deployed and who are having a hard time because of the recent government shutdown.”
Griffin said it is reasons like that which keeps the homeowners involved in giving.
“The purpose of the homeowners is to bring the community together,” she said. “It is to foster togetherness and it is a nice way to bring the community together and help other people while we’re doing it.”
Cathy MacKinnon sees the togetherness first hand. As an employee at Beggins, she is on the receiving end of many people who show up to drop off gifts or money for the cause. She says the community always seems to respond when it is needed.
“The community has been generous,” she said. “This is a great community and it has always stepped up. Last year more than 400 people showed up to drop off gifts or money, this place was loaded with toys.”
MacKinnon said she intends to continue to spearhead the toy drive next year.
“I will continue as long as the homeowners association and the city want me,” she said. “It looks like they do. All I know is that we have to keep involved, doing anything that will help make a child’s Christmas is important.”