Revving up for charity
Revving up for charity
By Erin Clark
MARTINEZ, Calif. – While leather-clad men astride Harley-Davidsons rumbling down Main may not immediately evoke the holiday spirit, one Martinez motorcycle club is working to change public perception and bring Christmas to a local family.
The Saints Motorcycle Club, headquartered downtown on Marina Vista Avenue, has teamed up with SHELTER, Inc., a non-profit organization who’s mission is to prevent and end homelessness in Contra Costa County, to collect everything from bedding to video games for a struggling single mother and her four children.
The effort was spearheaded by new Saints member Dave Silva, who learned about SHELTER, Inc.’s “adopt a family” holiday program from his friend Ashley Bristol.
“I was at the McGuire Harley-Davidson shop where [Bristol] works and she said, ‘Hey, I just adopted a family, want to help?’” Silva said, noting Bristol had assisted SHELTER, Inc. in previous years collecting holiday gifts for families in need. “[Bristol] bought a few things with the help of other employees at McGuire Harley-Davidson, and I grabbed the list and the Saints got everything else.”
According to Silva, SHELTER, Inc. provided a wish list from each person in the family that noted their ages, favorite colors and clothing and shoe sizes, as well as household items and toys the family wanted. “You’re able to target the individual and get what they need on their wish list so you’re not buying random stuff, you’re buying what they need,” Silva said.
After the gifts were wrapped, Silva delivered them to a social worker who will distribute them to the family before Christmas.
“[Bristol] told me about it, and I told the club and my mom about it, and it just keeps spreading,” Silva said, noting many he’s contacted about the program have expressed the desire to “adopt” a family next year. “My mom really got into it. We go out shopping together every year, mom and son, but this year we just went out shopping for this one family … we haven’t even done our own Christmas shopping yet. It got her thinking about adopting a family next year.”
In addition to lending a hand to SHELTER, Inc.’s holiday program, the Saints host fundraisers and give scholarships to Martinez Adult Education each year. Scholarship monies are raised through annual spaghetti feeds and their Bob Hallman Run, an annual celebration of the life of a former Saints club member.
“After the run, we have a barbecue with live music, food, a bike washing booth … we have lots of volunteers that come down and donate their time,” Silva said. “All the funds raised from those events go straight towards the scholarships.”
And the club is looking forward to doing even more. “I’m just learning the ropes,” Silva said, “but I hope to do this more often, not just for Christmas, not just for graduation. We’ll see if we can’t do this every couple of months and get more proactive in the neighborhood.”
Silva said he hopes to organize a toy run in 2013, getting other motorcycle clubs within Contra Costa County involved. “It’s been a long time since we’ve seen [a Harley toy drive] around here, so we’re going to try to make that happen.”
The Saints Motorcycle Club was established in 1999 and is made up of an exclusive group of men all living within Martinez. Prospective members are welcomed into the club by unanimous invitation only. “We’re not some biker club that’s here to party up the town and make noise. I joined the club to be a part of something bigger than myself,” Silva said. “I’m glad I did.”
To help the Saints in their charitable efforts, send donations to 605 Marina Vista Ave., Martinez, CA 94553. For more information on SHELTER, Inc., visit http://SHELTERincofcccorg.presencehost.net.