Motorcycle group makes toy donation in woman's memory
DANVILLE – Her name was Rhonda Baxter.
In September 2005, she was killed on U.S. 136 east of Danville when the motorcycle she and her husband were riding hit a deer.
Mrs. Baxter, 39, liked bowling and bike riding. She was an organ donor. She collected Barbie dolls and loved NASCAR, especially Dale Earnhardt Jr.
"Rhonda was very giving," said her sister, Jackie Curry. "She loved kids."
Soon after Mrs. Baxter's death, Curry wanted to do something more, so she took a handful of Barbie dolls from Mrs. Baxter's collection – the holiday editions – and gave them to Mrs. Baxter's friends, Tamara "Little Bit" Pendleton and Mike Pothast of Mike's Tattoos. Curry wanted to donate the dolls to the local Toys for Tots campaign.
Toys for Tots is a fundraiser to collect Christmas toys for underprivileged children. This year, area coordinators expect to serve 2,000 kids.
Pothast is national vice president of the motorcycle club Sons of Silence and helps organize donations for its annual campaign each year. Pendleton is right there with him.
"It's a good cause and a good reason," Curry said.
The dolls came in too late for last year's toy drive, but Pendleton had an idea. Recognizing the value of the Barbies, she and Pothast instead raffled them off at local bars to raise money for this year's campaign.
"We decided it would benefit the kids more if we raffled them off," Pendleton said, adding they could buy toys for at least 50 kids with the money instead of giving away the dolls to only a few.
The couple raised $400 and kicked in $100 themselves. They put the money away until Friday, when they spent the afternoon buying gifts at Big Lots.
Shopping for toys is what Pendleton looks most forward to.
"We get a lot of enjoyment out of buying toys," she said. "We picked out things we would like to have had as kids."
"We want to see the kids happy," he said.
The couple credits Mrs. Baxter for her posthumous donation.
"Rhonda would have wanted it this way," Pendleton said. "Even though she's gone, a part of her will probably always remain."