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At the Toys for Tots Holiday 200, off-roaders raced through the desert in Barstow.

Off-roaders race for Toys for Tots


BARSTOW • Before the drivers left the starting line early Saturday morning, they dropped their unwrapped toys off at a trailer at the entrance.

The Mojave Off-road Racing Enthusiast held their annual Toys for Tots Holiday 200 race which helped collect toy donations for underprivileged families on Saturday.

“These races are fantastic, they just give so much,” longtime Barstow Toys for Tots organizer Connie Wessel said. “With the economy the way it is it’s not going to be an easy chore but we are doing the best we can because we are not going to let our children go without Christmas and Santa Claus.”

The Toys for Tots program began in 1947 by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve and distributes toys to families who are less fortunate for the Christmas holiday. In Barstow former mayor Mal Wessel and his wife Connie headed the program as community directors for 30 years. The group generally begins collecting toy donations in October and will distribute them to children and families in Barstow on a first-come, first-served basis, at the Barstow Mall on Dec. 12.

M.O.R.E, a local off-road racing organization has sponsored the race since 1998 to fundraise for Barstow’s Toys for Tots.

“We appreciate being able to race our cars in the desert in those areas and it’s our way of giving back. We love racing and being able to give back,” Race Director for Buggies, Bill Markel said.

The 200-mile race began at 8 a.m. and brought together racers from Southern California, Nevada, Arizona and even one team from Japan.

Organizers said they expected to collect over 250 toys from the race and are appreciative of all local donors. Last week, District 37 of the American Motorcycle Association donated $5,025 and 200 toys Mal Wessel said.

Toys for Tots will continue fundraising at the annual Mayor’s Dinner called “Tips for Tots” held at Los Domingos on Dec. 11. There dinner will be served by local dignitaries including the Marine Corps Base Commander and Barstow’s Chief of Police and Fire Chief.

If interested in donating collection boxes are available in front of Barstow Wal-Mart and Rite Aid. For more information contact Mal Wessel at: (760) 252-3093.

Contact the writer:

(760) 256-4123 or

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