Reflecting on his own hardship endured in life makes Jacksonville resident Joe Thomas grateful for all that he has been blessed with today. This notion is what drives this Jacksonville resident and Club 217 event coordinator’s charitable spirit. This holiday season Thomas, Club 217 owner Tracy Wood, and the Bro Riders Motorcycle club will team up to provide local children in need with a Christmas to remember through the Shop With A Biker initiative.
Shop with a Biker will take place Saturday, December 19th at 11:00 AM at Shopko. Through generous donations, children selected for the program will shop with a biker and receive up to $100 worth of Christmas presents. Children participating in the program have been carefully selected based on need, and are only selected if, without this program, they would receive no Christmas presents.
In previous years Thomas and Wood have sponsored community coat drives, free meals for the needy, and Shop with a Bartender, a holiday program similar to this year’s event. While this is the inaugural year for Shop with a Biker, Thomas and Wood are no strangers to acts of generosity.
“I was not raised with a silver spoon in my mouth, so I’m pretty fortunate to be able to do things like this,” shared Thomas. “Tracy and I started out doing Thanksgiving Dinner every year for the homeless, and then we switched over our focus to this. So, it is just something we do out of the good of our hearts that we can afford to do and we enjoy doing.”
Thomas indicates that the response he has received from those participating in the various programs is what motivates him to continue giving back to the community.
“A family of five came two years ago to the Shop with a Bartender program. You could tell they were really down on their luck and really needed this program. The little kids came up and were hugging our legs and telling us thank you, thank you, thank you.”
The Bro Riders Motorcycle Club also shares Thomas and Wood’s sentiment. The motorcycle club, based outside of Beardstown was founded in 1976. The club consists of members from Morgan County and many other surrounding towns.
“We try to be very active and take part in anything that’s going on in our communities that involves helping people out. We try to be involved with a little bit of everything,” said Jason Timmerman, president of Bro Riders Motorcycle Club.
The goal of this year’s event is to serve 70 children. To date, Bro Riders Motorcycle club has raised over $1500 for the event.
“We held a private party, and placed a tip jar on the bar. Any money that was in the tip jar was donated to the Shop with a Biker Program. Additionally, the club made a donation,” said Timmerman.
During this year’s event, Bro Riders Motorcycle Club members and Santa will all arrive on motorcycles. Children who have been approved for the program will then shop with the bikers and select their own presents. While the event is sponsored by Club 217 and Bro Riders Motorcycle Club, any area biker who is interested in participating in the event is invited to attend.
To make a donation or to inquire about this event please contact Club 217 at 217-271-1022 or visit the night club’s Facebook page.