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Bikers to run toys to Dickerson Place

Even if it rains, a local motorcycle club plans to bring some sunshine to a bunch of kids Saturday.

The Southwest Chapter of A.B.A.T.E. — American Bikers Active Toward Education — will meet at 11:30 a.m. in the parking lot of the Brookhaven Walmart before parading through town with a police escort on their way to the Dickerson Place. The convoy of bikers — though many will be in trucks and cars if it rains — will deliver toys to the girls and boys at the residential campus that is part of the Baptist Children’s Village.

They’ll leave Walmart at 11:45 a.m. with Santa leading the way. Anyone is welcome to join them. Membership is not required. Nor is a motorcycle.

The club has been donating toys to the Dickerson Place campus for more than 20 years.

They started giving the kids there gifts because they realized that several area churches were taking care of their needs, but someone needed to tend to their wants.

“We decided to fill that gap in their lives,” said Carmen Hill, secretary and treasurer for the club. “We decided to make Christmas special for them.”

Hill expects at least 80 riders, even with a 90 percent chance of rain Saturday.

There are 100 members in the club, she said.

Participants are welcome to bring a board game or athletic equipment for the children, but most of the gifts were purchased already through money raised throughout the year by the club.

“The children make a list of approximately two or three things they want,” she said.

Then members go shopping.

On Saturday, they’ll visit with the kids, who are always anxious to check out the bikes, and Santa.

“The kids get to look at all the motorcycles and talk to Santa Claus and tell him what they want for Christmas,” she said.

They’ll also give out the gifts they brought and sing carols with the children.

The SW A.B.A.T.E. chapter’s focus is to educate the public about bikers, Hill said. One of the chapter’s goals is to see a state-run motorcycle safety class become a reality.