Volunteers from local motorcycle organizations on Saturday had a chance to assist Santa Claus as they shopped for toys for less fortunate children in the region.

Those children will receive them through the Salvation Army of Clearfield’s annual toys and food distribution.

Chinklacamoose Chapter of the Alliance of Bikers Aimed Toward Education President Tobey Wingard said the Bikes for a Cause project began with a helmet drive conducted at the end of September and the first weekend of October to raise funds for the project. Those funds combined with several donations garnered more than $12,100 for the cause.

Wingard said the funds are divided with approximately $3,800 being used to purchase non-perishable food items, both to stock the pantry at the Salvation Army and to make holiday food boxes for senior citizens. The remaining funds were spent at Ollie’s Bargain Outlet, Clearfield, where Wingard said the store’s manager and staff assists the group to help them get the most toys for their dollars.

Approximately 20 volunteers from four organizations assisted Saturday by shopping and packing toys and food purchased into a large box truck, donated by Grice Gun Shop Inc., Clearfield, and escorting the truck to the Salvation Army of Clearfield. In addition to CCABATE, those groups are American Legion Riders from Clearfield and DuBois, Clearfield Cycle Club and Christian Motorcyclists Association.

Wingard said this is the fifth year that the effort to assist Salvation Army of Clearfield has taken place. He said it has grown each year. Because of all the uncertainty associated with COVID-19 and the lackluster economy, Wingard said the club was unsure what to expect — but again, residents were very generous.

“We just appreciate all the support so much. We weren’t sure what was going to happen this year, but people opened their wallets, and in some cases we didn’t even have to ask,” Wingard said.

CCABATE Vice President Micki Pearson said the funds raised are even more important this year because the Salvation Army of Clearfield expects the number of requests for toys and food to increase dramatically.

“There are just so many people locally who are unfortunate, especially now with the COVID-19 situation. Many have lost jobs or had their hours cut. However people have been so good to us. Even though things are bad we have raised more in 2020 than we ever have.”

Wingard thanked those businesses that allowed volunteers to conduct a helmet drive at their business: J.G. Food Warehouse, Gio’s of Woodland, Goodman’s Foodliner, Save-A-Lot and the Clearfield County Courthouse. He also recognized individuals assisting with the drive naming Barry and Donna Peters, Shirley Zimmerman, Glenn Shimmel, Dan Rebo, Jeff Lanager, Scott Koenig, Larry Blake, Bud Stiner, Tom and Lyn Gray, Jennifer and A.J. Anderson, Tom Sprague, Micki and Slick Pearson and Brenda Wingard.

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Salvation Army of Clearfield expects the number of requests it will receive for holiday toys and food to increase — perhaps as much as 55 percent —and because of COVID-19, it is looking as though it will have to cut back on the amount of red kettle locations for its annual Red Kettle Campaign.

Therefore, CCABATE is also selling raffle tickets to help cover the deficit to Salvation Army of Clearfield’s holiday budget. Tickets are $5 each and are available from CCABATE members and at Bud’s Electric, Clearfield. Winning tickets will be drawn Saturday, Dec. 12. Wingard said if all the raffle tickets sell, another $4,500 will be donated to the Salvation Army of Clearfield for its holiday toys and food program.

Salvation Army of Clearfield Captain Laurie Greenfield said Saturday’s donation will help to bolster the holiday toys and food program, especially in a year when it is unforeseeable how the annual kettle campaign will turn out.

“Today’s donation is going to help us be able to meet the large demand for toys and food that we expect to receive. We find when the weather is cold and residents have to turn on their heat, their budget takes a hit because they have to make cuts to pay those costs. Often it is food or additional expenses for holidays that take the hit. The donation will allow the Salvation Army to stock its pantry and put some items away for Christmas food baskets,” Greenfield explained.

She added, “We served 325 families and children last year, and this year could be well over 400. We’re not sure yet because I don’t think people are thinking that the holidays are that close.”

Anyone who would like to donate to the Salvation Army of Clearfield for its toy and food program may mail donations to P.O. Box 987, Clearfield, PA 16830. Donations of non-perishable food items can be dropped off at the worship Center at 119 Byers St., Clearfield.

Greenfield said other ways to help are to watch for the Treasures for Children tags that will be available in local businesses in early November. Each tag contains a wish list of items for a child.

She said donated items are needed for single children and youth or entire families can be adopted.

Greenfield said she is so thankful for those who participated in Saturday’s event.

“I would just like to thank Ollie’s Bargain Outlet, Chinklacamoose Chaper of ABATE, Clearfield Cycle Club, American Legion Riders of Clearfield and DuBois and Christian Motorcyclists Association,” she said.