By Libby Hopkins

The Cookson Hills Toy Run has become a yearly tradition in the Brandon community. The run has been helping forgotten veterans, children (newborns to 18-years-old), special need individuals (all ages) and seniors in our area for 23 years. “The down home make you feel good all over Cookson Hills Toy Run will be different this year and we are hoping everyone joining will agree,” said Sheri Brown, the creator of the toy run.” As always, the toy run is open to anyone who wants to make a difference in the life of those less fortunate.”

Last year Brown had to step down from running the Toy Run that she and her husband, Bill created because he was ill. He passed away in November 2015 from pancreatic cancer. “I was asked to come back by some of those that had run it last year,” Brown said. “Bill and I put our hearts and souls into the creation and success, people wanted the event back the way it was. They wanted the ‘traditions’ Bill and I created through the years that made the event a 21-year success. Those that stepped in when Bill was sick and I was his caregiver did wonders having little or no experience. I am very grateful that they did so or a great event would have become just a memory.”

The toy run will be held on Sunday, December 4. The beginning of the run will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the Fraternal Order of Eagles, located at 1810 Front St. in Valrico.

“We are asking those attending for a donation of $15 a bike and rider, $10 passenger including a toy which will include a free T-shirt and free lunch at Veteran’s Memorial Park,” Brown said. “Auctions and raffles begin at 10:30 a.m., with the ride starting a 1 p.m at Veteran’s Memorial Park.” The Main Event begins at 1 p.m. at Veteran’s Memorial Park. “Christmas gifts are passed out to those invited to receive and are opened about 2:30 p.m. in your presence,” Brown said. “The event comes to an end about 4:30 p.m.”

Brown is looking for event sponsors to help with food and gifts for the guests who come to the toy run. If you would like to help, you can contact Brown at 643-5758 or email her at To learn more about the Cookson Hills Toy Run, you can visit their webpage at

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Libby is a writer for The Osprey Observer/The Christian Voice. She started as an intern in 2009 and upon finishing her internship, she was asked to stay on as a permanent writer for both papers. Libby lives in Brandon with her two rescue dogs, Olive and Bogey.