Excitement, combined with an underlying sense of loss and remembrance, brought together friends, families and a host of volunteers together in what was described by WSB Traffic Team member ‘Smilin’ Mark McKay as “a family reunion” Saturday for the annual Toys for Tots drive at Fred’s Bar-B-Q House in Lithia Springs.
The event has become an annual gathering to keep alive the memory of the late Capt. Herb Emory with the help of his wife Karen. This year, two other loyal supporters of the Toys for Tots drive, Atlanta radio legend Rhubarb Jones and Herb Emory’s mother, Joyce Emory, were remembered following their passing earlier in 2017. Both attended the annual toy drive last December.
As each year goes forward, Karen Emory said she continues “to appreciate the outpouring of love and support in the community.”
Longtime host of the Toys for Tots Drive Fred Harris and his son, Todd, started the event in 1997 and with the help of Emory and his wife, Karen, beginning in 2001, made it the hugely successful event it is today.
As part of the toy drive, some 40 participants took part in the fourth annual Herb Emory Memorial Motorcycle Ride Saturday morning. There was live music, face painting by art students at New Manchester High School, race cars, a wrestling exhibition, Boy Scout Explorers, the Lithia Springs High School Marine Corps JROTC and a contingency of law enforcement from Douglas County and other agencies across metro Atlanta.
Many familiar faces, and many new ones, came out to enjoy the festivities and support the cause.
“People come out here year after year, knowing its purpose as a Toys for Tots drive and as an opportunity to come and see the friends they’ve come to know each year,” McKay said. “Herb’s looking down on this. We have to keep this going for Herb each year.”