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Spotlight: Winter Wonderland with Santa Toy Drive

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Christina Stock Photo Robert Tynes, general manager of Westlake ACE Hardware, is seen here next to the donated grill that will be raffled off. All proceeds will go towards the first Winter Wonderland Toy Drive, which is supported by the Emperors Riding Club.

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

A new fundraiser will benefit area elementary students

By Christina Stock

Vision Editor

Westlake ACE Hardware and Emperor’s Riding Club are hosting their first toy drive fundraiser with the theme Winter Wonderland with Santa on Dec. 11 from 10 a.m. to noon.

In previous years the hardware store offered space to various charitable groups for fundraising during the holidays. This is still the case.

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Asked why the store decided to hold its own event, General Manager Robert Tynes said that he was looking to support children.

“For us to set up our own event this year is something I felt passionate about,” he said. “There are just so many organizations in town doing different benefits and collaborating together as a team or network. Some of the organizations we’ve reached out to support: the Boys & Girls Club, The (First) Tee. We’re active with the Optimist Club. We are known to support anything with education, children. We are known to be a one-on-one community service.”

Raffle tickets for a donated new pellet grill are also available at the store, and all funds will go towards the toy drive.

While Tynes did not grow up in Roswell, his family and his mother are from here. Tynes said that, because his mother became concerned due to the pandemic, he moved from California to live with her.

In Roswell, Tynes has become involved in several civic organizations. When he was planning the toy drive, he reached out to find support.

“The Emperors Riding Club came up and said they would love to help out,” he said. The motorcycle club was founded in 2019 and is known to be  family-oriented. Its members come from all walks of life and include business owners such as Maribel “Bella” Ochoa, owner of Laura’s Cafe and founding member of the club.

“It’s not very often you see a small group of people able to make a difference in our community,” Ochoa wrote in a message. “Our goal is just that — making a difference. We have partnered up with Westlake Ace Hardware this year to provide a happy Christmas to some of our local elementary school students. It has been a tough year for everyone and being able to show love and support during this time will definitely bring some joy. We hope this will motivate others to do the same. Westlake Ace Hardware and Emperors Riding Club will continue working together to build a better future for our community. Strong roots create a good foundation. We are just getting started.”

About the decision of his committee to support elementary school students, Tynes said that he spoke with the principal and office assistant of Nancy Lopez Elementary School.

“They shared some stories with me that really brought sadness to me,” he said. “During the year of COVID, a lot of parents were struggling with home, income and jobs. So many parents struggle with giving their children a great Christmas and keeping the magic alive. That’s what’s important. It’s not the fact of getting; it’s the fact of giving. I feel a lot of times we put so much emphasis on getting and not giving. Keeping that dream of Santa Claus alive, making them (the children) have that dream. We chose Nancy Lopez, starting out with pre-K.”

Tynes said that he is already making plans for next year’s fundraiser. “I’m hoping next year we can do it a little bit different, so we can impact different schools as well.”

In an email Dolores Ingram, Nancy Lopez Elementary School principal, wrote, “We at Nancy Lopez Elementary are so thankful for Westlake choosing to bless our pre-K students with gifts for Christmas!  Thank you, Rob Tynes, for giving back to the youngest members of our community! It will be pure joy watching them open presents.”

Tynes said that, by Thanksgiving, the store’s windows will be painted by local artists. On the day of the toy drive, the entry will be transformed into a “winter wonderland” and Santa himself will be there.

“We’ll use this sleigh (located in the entry of the store) for kids to sit down in and see Santa and give them a bag of goodies with an apple, an orange, nuts and candy canes,” Tynes said. “That will go on for a couple of hours, and then that evening we are going to transport the winter wonderland to the Fraternal Eagles. They’ve donated the hall for us and we’re going to create a winter wonderland for adults. It’s by invitation only. However, if there are individuals who would like to participate, we ask them to reach out to the store here for an invite.”

Tynes said the event is requiring invitations to make sure that it is a safe and peaceful celebration and to recognize everybody who helped.

“It will be a donation at the door with your invitation (to enter). We will have raffles every 30 minutes on small items. We’ll continue the raffle on the grill and then we’ll have some other items we’ll do a silent auction on. We’ll have a DJ. The Roswell Mounted Police Patrol will be doing our security. They’ve donated their time for that evening. A lot of this I am just trying to get donated. I would rather use all the money that we’re trying to collect go straight into what we’re trying to accomplish.

“I am very blessed that so many people have come out and supported us on our first year. I can imagine what next year will be like, planning ahead and having people already know what we’re trying to accomplish here,” Tynes said.

Tynes added that he has many other plans to help children and young adults in regards to education and giving them the opportunity to reach their full potential.

Westlake Ace Hardware is located at 2810-D N. Main St. For more information, visit westlakehardware.com or call 575-624-0550 or find Emperors Riding Club on Facebook @emperorsroswell.

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