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Santa Run Hauls in Toys Galore

Fire engines lead seven convoys through Annapolis neighborhoods

Mike Binnix donned the red and white suit for Convoy 4 in this year’s Santa Run.

“We’re going to need more bags!” said 14-year-old Zac Binnix as we pulled into Arundel on the Bay on this year’s Santa Run.
    People had been friendly and collections good at each of our three stops since leaving Truxton Park an hour and a half earlier. But Arundel on the Bay was taking it to a new level. Cheering our arrival, some 120 neighbors had piled three picnic tables high with gifts as donations.
    Binnix is used to Santa Runs. For 14 years, his grandfather was the Santa on this run. This year his father, Mike Binnix, has taken over the suit and is riding shotgun with our driver and Convoy 4 leader, Annapolis firefighter Bud Swink.
    Following us were four more vehicles manned by civilians, firefighters and police, adults, teens and kids, volunteers all. Six other convoys were covering different neighborhoods, all with the same mission: collecting donated toys for the less fortunate in our community.
    As we approached, the drivers switched on the lights and sirens to announce our arrival. The trucks stopped and Santa jumped out to entertain neighborhood kids. Meanwhile, volunteers brought out large, heavy-duty bags and loaded them with donations. Each neighborhood plied us with food and drink and thanked the firefighters and police.
    Arundel on the Bay was only our fourth stop on a nine-stop route, but after the gifts were all loaded, most of our cargo space was full. Even the unmarked police car had its trunk and back seat crammed full.
    Over the next few stops we managed to find nooks and crannies in the vehicles to store the toys. Then came our next-to-last stop at the Gardens of Annapolis, an independent senior community. Unlike previous stops, here nobody appeared to be waiting for us in spite of the usual light show and noise. We parked and entered the building.
    Inside, our jaws dropped. In the lobby was an amazing collection of toys, some 150 in all, with the Annapolis Gardens residents standing behind them.
    There was no way we could carry all this, so convoy leader Swink called in a second alarm, summoning another truck.
    With collections finished, laden trucks headed to unload at a secret Eastport warehouse dubbed The North Pole. From the warehouse, the toys will make their way to places of honor under area Christmas trees, then to eager hands on Christmas morning. Distribution is secret, to preserve the magic for the kids.
    Last year’s Santa Runs collected about 3,200 toys. I expect this year’s total to be at least as good.
    “Our goal,” says John Muhitch, leader of the Santa Run for more than a decade, “is for kids to have a good Christmas morning and find gifts under their tree.”