They choose to ride big bikes rather than reindeer, but when it comes to being Santa's little helper, they're one of the biggest on the Peninsula. They are the men and women of ABATE, Alaska Bikers Advocating Training and Education.
Last week, assisted by consultants like 9 year old Chelsee Mansfield, they revved up their shopping carts, super charged with $4,300 in donations and deep discounts, and four hours later had completed their task of helping buy new toys for those less fortunate in our community. "The money comes from the community. We do a lot of different fund raisers through out the year and it comes from donations from those who attend the events and buy our raffle tickets, and every penny we make, all the profit, we push into our toys for tots fund," said Rick Carlyle, Vice President of ABATE.
The shoppers wanted quantity as well as quality, so each toy averaged between $15-20 dollars, "We're trying to serve as many kids as we can, and in all age groups from the small toddlers to the teens and young adults with a gift that they would really like," added Carlyle.
Big Kmart made sure that the "Santa-ized" bikers got the biggest bang for their buck by offering 25-50% discounts, and Beemun's in Soldotna offered discounts along with an additional free box of toys. Officials at Sharing the Spirit estimated that some 3,000 toys would be needed to see that all the requests from the local area were met.
"We really appreciate what the members of ABATE do for us, they help with the distribution as well, with out a doubt they are one of the Share the Spirit's biggest supporters. We love 'em," said Jane Stein, one of the original organizers of the Sharing the Spirit campaign on the Kenai Peninsula. Sharing the Spirit is a cooperative effort of local nonprofit organizations dedicated to coordinating Holiday help for those in need.
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