Bikers spread cheer with holiday donations

 

Krista Hall/The Herald
American Bikers Aimed Toward Education member Faron Lasher of Ireland twirled a basketball Saturday that was donated for the organization’s Toys for Tikes motorcycle ride while he waited for the ride to begin at Winkler’s Natural Foods in Jasper. Lasher was among the 11 motorcyclists who rode to the food banks in Huntingburg and Jasper before ending at Tri-Cap. ABATE distributes new toys, new clothes, nonperishable food and cash to area children in need at Christmastime. ABATE is included in The Herald’s “Holiday Spirit” list of local nonprofit groups that need money and volunteers. The list can be found here.

 

By ALEXANDRA SONDEEN
Herald Staff Writer

The low, loud rumble of 11 motorcycle engines announced the arrival of much-needed donations to three area nonprofit organizations Saturday as the Dubois County chapter of American Bikers Aimed Toward Education headed out on the annual Toys for Tikes ride.

ABATE is a national group that focuses on motorcycle safety. In Indiana, it runs the motorcycle safety and education program for the state. The local chapter collects and distributes money and toys each year at Christmastime.

“We turn it all over to organizations that get it to the right people,” Sylvester Voegerl of St. Anthony, chairman of the ride, said. “We’re a collecting organization that funnels donations to the people who can distribute them. In the 13 years we’ve been doing it, we’ve probably collected over $120,000 worth of money, food, clothing and toys.”

Several of Saturday’s riders donned Santa hats or reindeer antlers, and the bikers waved to people on the streets as they passed.

“Everybody smiles,” Dawn Denk of Portersville said. She rode on the back of a motorcycle with her husband, Pat, carrying a large stuffed bear to donate. “I enjoy it a lot. You’re helping out the community.”

The riders’ first stop was at Shared Abundance food pantry and thrift store in Huntingburg. Voegerl presented a $1,000 check to food bank Director Rich Welp before the group took a few minutes to check out what the store had to offer.

“We’re always in need of money so we can go out and buy food,” Welp said.

After lunch at the Huntingburg Eagles Club, the bikers headed to Community Food Bank in Jasper to present another $1,000 check and a couple of other checks donated by area businesses, a total of about $1,850.

“I stop everything I’m doing when I hear that noise because I know they’re here,” manager Amanda Drew said. “It makes my day.”

The food bank uses the funds to purchase additional food when donations slow down and when certain items are in short supply.

“The demand is always going up,” Drew said. “This donation will ensure that Dubois County residents will have a good Christmas.”

The last stop on the ride was at Tri-Cap in Jasper to donate a van load of toys for needy children. Some toys were donated, but most were purchased by ABATE using donated money.

“Sometimes we get calls from families that don’t regularly need our help through our programs, but they need help at Christmas,” said Angie Mitchell, a staff member with Tri-Cap’s Healthy Families program.

In all, ABATE will distribute about $10,000 worth of money and goods this year before beginning fundraisers for next year’s Toys for Tikes ride in the spring, Voegerl said.

“We don’t have to do a ride,” he said. “I could deliver everything myself, but it’s a chance for us to get together. We’ll ride in the cold for this, but sometimes we have to go in cars if it’s snowing because of safety.”

Mike Oeding of Velpen has ridden with the group each December for about 10 years.

“I do it because it’s just the right thing to do,” he said. “I enjoy giving back to the community.
It’s amazing that with the economy like it is, we’ve done very well.”

ABATE will continue collecting money and toys through Dec. 22 to be given to area organizations. For more information, see the “Holiday Spirit” list found here.

Contact Alexandra Sondeen at asondeen@dcherald.com.




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