By Sharon Mager
It was a festive atmosphere at The Office Bar & Grill on the morning of November 3. Bikers, some dressed as Santa, and their riders arrived cheerful and ready to eat at the breakfast buffet before getting their motors running and heading on the highway for the seventh annual Toys for the Dena Run. For seven years, the restaurant has sponsored the event to collect toys and raise money to help needy families in Pasadena.
The merry riders traveled west to Woodstock Inn, then to the Severna Park Taphouse and on to Larry’s Tavern in Millersville. At each stop, they picked up more toys, and more bikers and the whole group arrived back at The Office for an evening of food, fun, raffles and live music.
Bikers paid a $20 registration fee. They also brought new toys for children ages 3 to 16. A truck followed the motorcycles and gathered toys at each stop.
“Each bar has a toy collection bin, and we pick up the toys,” said Sarah Root, general manager of The Office Bar & Grill. “We also have people every year who’ll ask, ‘Can we donate to this?’ and they’ll hand us cash.”
People genuinely want to help, Root explained. “It’s our way of giving back to the community,” she said. “We’re all from Pasadena, and most of us have lived here all of our lives. We’re big on family, and we want to help.”
In all, The Office collected more than 100 toys. Root organizes the run each year and has a blast doing it. She enjoys seeing the mountain of toys arrive. After collecting them and the funds from the registration, donations and the raffles, she contacts local schools to help her identify families that could use some assistance for the holidays. Then, she works with each family individually to provide toys, clothing and other needs.
“They always need coats and shoes,” Root said. “We also give them a gift card to a food store.”
Most of the parents come to The Office to pick up the gifts, and Root said employees are overwhelmed with gratitude. “That’s one of my favorite parts is to see the families’ faces when they come in,” Root emphasized.
Root said the annual run has resulted in raising approximately $38,000 in cash, and $1,500 worth of toys over the last seven years to help Pasadena families.
The run is a lot of work and it takes a year to plan, but Root said, “It’s the most awesome event!”
Root recognized Howard and Lisa Thorn, customers and friends, who are a huge help, working each year to plan the routes.
She is also appreciative of the approximate 20 businesses, and the Anne Arundel County Police Department, for supporting the event.
During the event, then County Executive Steve Schuh presented Root with an executive citation, saluting her “unwavering support of our local elementary schools.”