Mini Coopers set to roll with toy cargo

Stonington - On Sunday morning at 9 a.m., 62 Mini Cooper cars whose owners come from several states will gather in the parking lot of Westerly Middle School.

An hour later they are scheduled to leave in a caravan to drop off close to 1,000 toys to three organizations that serve the needy during the Christmas season, including the Pawcatuck Neighborhood Center.

This is the 10th year that Minis Make a Difference, a Rhode Island-based nonprofit organization, has run the event and so far has donated 9,100 toys.

This year, it hopes to reach the 10,000 mark, according to Steve Scales of Westerly, who founded the group with his wife when he bought a Mini Cooper.

"Is a unique car that has unique owners," Scales said Friday. "They're people who have really big hearts."

He said Mini Cooper owners from as far away as Cape Cod, New Hampshire and New Jersey are slated to participate. He said each of the cars is unique in some way.

After the caravan of Mini Coopers crosses the Pawcatuck River bridge, 20 of them will split off and deliver toys to the neighborhood center.

The other 42 will head up Route 2 and later be joined by the first 20 to finish their 60-mile ride to Exeter and Warwick, where they will deliver toys to Children's Wishes of Rhode Island and Toys for Tots.

In addition to the annual toy drive, Scales said his group also holds "Fill a Mini" events in which they back up their Mini Coopers to a supermarket and then collect donations which they deliver to food pantries.

For information about the organization, visit: www.minismd.org

j.wojtas@theday.com

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