By Dave Kohler
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania based Racers for Tots announced that 2011 was a record year for its annual Christmas toy drive to help needy children. Over $82,000.00 in donations and toys were collected making it the biggest year in the 13 year history of Racers for Tots.
“In spite of a down economy our sponsors, the racing community and community at large came together in record numbers and we can’t thank everyone enough!” stated Racers for Tots organizer Jimmy Steigerwald.
Racers for Tots, affiliated with the Marines Toys for Tots program, was started in 1999 by Steigerwald, a race official at Pittsburgh Pennsylvania Motor Speedway, as a way to help children, who through unfortunate circumstances would wake up Christmas morning with few or no gifts.
Throughout the year Racers for Tots conducted a raffle for a brand new Rocket dirt race car (less motor and transmission) in which individuals donated $10.00 for a chance to win the racecar given away at the World Finals at the Dirt Track at Charlotte in November. Denny Smith of Glen Campbell, PA, a Street Stock competitor at Dog Hollow Speedway in Strongstown, PA, was the winner of the racecar and plans to compete with it in the Crate Late Model division in 2012.
The racecar raffle, conducted at numerous race tracks both dirt and asphalt during the 2011 race season is the center piece for the Racers for Tots toy drive. “In addition to our home race track at Pittsburgh Pennsylvania Motor Speedway, we visited our traditional group of race tracks as well as venturing out to new tracks with the Racers for Tots racecar exposing it to a whole new group of racers including the asphalt group at Motordrome (PA) Speedway” said Steigerwald “and that certainly helped achieve our record amount”.
Additional fundraising efforts included a golf outing, chance to win money raffles, donations and, for the first time ever, partnering with Chartiers Valley Parents Teacher Group (PTG) and the Chartiers Valley Primary School in Collier Township, PA and the school's kindergarten through second grade classes who adopted Racers for Tots as the school's charity for 2011.
“Our involvement with the school and students is something new for us and it was a resounding success; we plan on expanding it next year” related Steigerwald. “The kids really stepped up and pitched in and it’s very heartwarming to know that children are willing to help other children at a time of need”.
Racers for Tots concluded its 2011 toy drive with a huge Christmas party at the South Fayette (PA) Firehall in December with attendees donating a new unwrapped toy or $10.00 for admission to the party.
Racers for Tots is gearing up for the 2012 Christmas toy drive with a brand new Rocket racecar that’s awaiting lettering along with an enclosed trailer to haul the car. A Super Bingo will be held March 4 at the South Fayette Firehall to raise additional funds.
For more information, log onto the Racers for Tots website at www.racersfortots.com.