Biker groups gather toys for tots

Motorcycles traded in for shopping carts

Posted: Sunday, December 15, 2002

Usually one doesn't think of black leather-clad bikers and children's toys in the same vein, but the two extremes do come together this time of year as motorcyclists from the Kenai Peninsula shop for toys for tots.

In fact, two motorcycle clubs, the Alaskan Bikers Advocating Training and Education and the Gold Wing Road Riders Associa-tion spent a couple evenings last week shopping for their annual Christmas toy donations.

On Wednesday, 10 members of the Gold Wing peninsula chapter picked 28 tags from the angel tree at Big Kmart and shopped for items children requested on the tags.

"Each tag had the age and gender of the child and what the child would like for Christmas," said Dennis Bible, a member of the club, which has been participating in the Christmas giving program for two years.

Club members Bob and Dorothy Martin, Bob Walker and son Chase, Dennis and Sue Bible, Alex Zer-binos, Rick Prestwick, Matt John-son and Vern Bennett took the tags and shopped at Kmart for the gifts, which were then delivered to The Salvation Army in Kenai.

The group spent about $600, Bible said.

"The angel tree program is pretty good. It's people helping people. That's what it's all about," he said.

The following night, five members of Kenai Peninsula ABATE visited Beemun's in Soldotna and Kmart spending $3,578.40, according to James Reddick, chapter Sergeant at arms. Both stores gave the shoppers a 10 percent discount.

All the toys purchased also went to The Salvation Army in Kenai.

Reddick said ABATE raises money throughout the year by conducting bike runs that offer camping, dancing and games that test motorcycling skills.

"We always get a band, we buy some beer and we have games on bikes," Reddick said, adding the games on bikes are not conducted on the same day as the partying.

Depending on how many days the bike runs span, members are charged $10 or $20 to enter the grounds. The money is saved through the year and becomes the club's capital for the toys for tots drive.

"When we started Toys for Tots 17 years ago, we gave all the toys to the Marine Corps Toys for Tots program, but then something happened and they started giving the toys away in places other than just the Kenai Peninsula, so we started our own toys for tots," he said.

Now all the toys purchased by the Kenai group are donated to children on the peninsula.

Helping with the shopping were Reddick, Cheryl and Jennifer Criswell, Vicki Duggin and Liz Dixon.

"We do the runs to make riders feel safe when they're riding and to raise money to give to the community ... to put it back in the community to help out," Reddick said.

Reddick's wife, Wendy, said people interested in the ABATE chapter are invited to attend the next club meeting at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Kenai American Legion post.

Salvation Army Envoy Jeannie Fanning appreciates the efforts of the motorcycle groups and said this year, things are looking pretty good for the angel giving-tree program.

"At this point, everything is working out," she said Friday. "Everything is falling into place."

Those wishing to make donations to The Salvation Army may do so between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at the Family Services Area on the Kenai Spur Highway in Kenai.

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