Motorcycle club joins hands with The Salvation Army to help local kids in Richmond, Va.
By: David Ibata
Active and retired law enforcement personnel who love riding motorcycles saddled up recently to deliver Christmas toys to The Salvation Army in Richmond, Virginia.
About 150 members and friends of the Blue Knights VA III chapter – some coming from as far away as New Jersey and Delaware – met at a local Harley-Davidson dealership the morning of Saturday, Nov. 2, to make the Inaugural Salvation Army Toy Run to benefit children in need.
“The Blue Knights are passionate about community service and supporting organizations helping others,” said Matt Pochily, development director for the Central Virginia Area Command. “They knew they could put out the call to gather and ride their bikes to support an organization like The Salvation Army and have a great response.”
The toys will go toward Angel Tree gifts for the children of families enrolled in Central Virginia’s Christmas Assistance Program.
The Richmond Blue Knights had had a teddy bear run for a local children’s hospital for 37 years, but a program change at the hospital this fall ended that initiative, said Michael Hart, secretary-treasurer of the club and a retired 35-year veteran of the Henrico County, Virginia, Police Department.
“We were looking for a new charity we could help,” Hart said. “I’ve always thought The Salvation Army would be a good fit for our group and event. We contacted them, and they were more than happy for us to do something for them.”
The Army asked for toys suitable for infants through 14-year-olds, and the Knights went shopping – for dolls to Legos to trucks. They carried the gifts as they rode more than 50 miles across Hanover and Henrico counties to a Salvation Army drop-off point at a Richmond area shopping mall.
The Blue Knights organization is the latest partner to join the Christmas Assistance Program.
“We have a number of unique partners that make possible a comprehensive distribution of gifts to families in needs – stockings, coats, toys, clothing,” Pochily said.
One media partner, for example, assists the Angel Tree campaign; another gives stockings. A third partner runs a coat drive that brings in 12,000 pieces of outerwear, while a fourth provides funds that help support the Christmas Center – the command’s gift distribution warehouse – and the purchases of supplies for other campaigns.
The Blue Knights is an international, nonprofit, fraternal organization of motorcycle-riding law enforcement veterans with hundreds of chapters and thousands of members in 29 countries, according to the VA III chapter website, www.blueknightsvaiii.org.
In December, their members will return to The Salvation Army to put bicycles together and help at a distribution day. They look forward to next year’s toy ride.
“We had short notice this year as we switched from one charity to another,” Hart said, “but next year, we’ll have a lot more time to plan, and it should be a bigger and better event.”