A band of motorcycle riders from around the South West are preparing to embark on a very special journey that they have been making for more than two decades, all in the name of helping local families.
Riders from across the come together on the second weekend in December for the annual South West Charity Toy Ride, supporting the Salvation Army and collecting toys and donations for families in need.
Event organiser Colin Spark said the ride had been taking place for the last 22 years, starting in Augusta where the Lions host a community breakfast before heading north stopping in Margaret River, Dunsborough and concluding in Busselton.
As they ride, they collect donations of toys, vouchers, groceries, and cash to support the appeal.
"We've been involved now for about nine or ten years," Colin told the Mail.
"The diverse people you meet is unbelievable, from all walks of life. And the great thing is, it all stays local down here - it's South West people helping each other."
Colin said the addition of the Capel Riders in recent years would allow the event to expand and help even more people in need.
"People meet in carparks along the way, we have others tooting and waving at us, we have kids out the front of the houses on the way up, it's just beautiful."
Riders in the north gather in Capel the night before the ride, before heading to the Augusta Hotel via Nannup.
In the morning after the Leeuwin Lions breakfast, the group lands in Margaret River and rides on to the Dunsborough Tavern.
A final stop sees the Busselton Lions host a sausage sizzle lunch, raffles and an auction.
Colin said non-riders were welcome along the way, particularly at the finishing point, at The Deck.
"We'd love everyone to come along and take a look at the bikes, and make a toy or grocery donation if they are able."
Busselton's Salvation Army Captain Mark Schatz said it was a true example of "local looking after local".
"I love our community, and I love the South West," he said.
"But we also know that people are struggling, and we don't want them to struggle alone.
"We can't fix everything, we can't magic houses... but we want to take the pressure off a little bit."
Mark said the Charity Toy Ride was the local chapter's biggest fundraiser of the year, and as part of the wider Salvation Army Christmas Appeal, made an enormous difference to local families.
"It's about taking pressure off the parents and helping them to make Christmas happen," he said.
"I can guarantee almost every year without fail in the South West, there are several mums who walk into our toy rooms and just burst into tears... tears of relief and knowing they've got Christmas together.
"You sit there and say 'that's where we can make a difference'."
Rio Tinto's Claire Somerville-Brown met with Mark recently to deliver gifts for the Christmas Appeal.
"We are grateful for the incredible work the Salvation Army does," she said.
"This appeal enables us to give back to the South West community which has supported our FIFO operations since 2007."
Mark said the ongoing cost of living pressures felt across the country had impacted people's ability to support charity causes, but there was still hope.
"Every year it gets harder and harder, people who used to be able to give $50 or $100, are now down to $20 or even $5.
"But if everyone could just give that $5, or whatever they can, it really does have an impact.
"My dream is that no one misses out, and no one struggles alone."
HELP AT HAND
Gifts can be left under the Wishing Tree at Kmart Stores or delivered to the South West Salvation Army Centre in Kent Street Busselton. You can also donate online at community.salvationarmy.org.au/o/busselton-salvos
People wishing to access gifts need to register prior to collection, with access to the toy rooms just before Christmas.
Please call Busselton Salvation Army 9754 2733 for more information.