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Christmas with the Gypsys

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Children enjoy toys given by the Gypsy MC COURTESY PHOTO Children enjoy toys given by the Gypsy MC COURTESY PHOTO

By Mollie LaSalle
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WOODVILLE – Woodville Gypsy MC will be hosting their third annual toy giveaway on Saturday, December 9, in the Woodville Shell parking lot, located at 705 S. Magnolia from noon to 5 p.m. This is their third year giving away stuffed animals, and they reach more children each year. It’s completely free, and the kids can take pictures with the bikes if they want to.

This event is the brainchild of Misty Arbuckle and Mary Lou Babnew, both members of Woodville Gypsy MC; Misty, aka “Chainsaw” is an active member, and Mary Lou Babnew, aka “June Bug” is a retired member. Babnew used to work for Pet Smart and got the ball rolling with the stuffed animals. Arbuckle said that” I give her (Mary Lou) credit for getting this started”.

Arbuckle went on to explain that “what happens is Pet Smart starts selling these specific toys, and they sell them to customers; the customers turn around and donate them back, and they (Pet Smart) collect them all and then they call us to come get them. We go with a trailer to collect all the stuffed animals and distribute them to whoever needs them.”

In return, the people at Pet Smart told them if they could get some pictures of them (the Gypsies) giving out the stuffed animals, they (Pet Smart) could sell more the next year. Woodville Gypsy MC also donate to Defenders of Animals in Galveston County; they come and get a bunch of the stuffed animals, they are actually pet toys, for the kids and the animals to play with.

Arbuckle further explained, “at that point, we didn’t have any interaction with the kids, we gave the bags of stuffed animals to other people and they distributed them. I just started brainstorming, and I came up with “Christmas with the Gypsies; our first year, we set a table up at the Dollar Tree parking lot and gave free toys and stuffed animals to people, and that’s what started it. We had roughly 253 children show up our first year, in 2021, and we had some of our members to stand out on the road and hold up signs directing people to come and get free toys”. Last year, they set up at Tractor Supply, and the turn out was even better received. This year, the plan was to approach the manager at the Shell station first, and Misty’s daughter, Kaitlyn went and talked to the manager, and she was like, “absolutely, I’d love to have y’all”.

Arbuckle mentioned the support they have received from area first responders; “We are good friends with several of the different officers/departments and have given each of them a bag of toys, that way if they interact with children, they can have a stuffed animal to comfort them.”

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