The Tri-Cities Motorcyclist Association is looking for assistance in helping the less fortunate of the greater Kingsport community.
Over the past 31 years, the club has helped over 375 families a year, totaling around 1,200 or more people. But this year, the need is greater and more help is needed than the club itself can give.
“Each year around Christmas, the Tri-Cities Motorcyclists Association holds a toy run for children, to help alleviate some of the burdens less fortunate families face at Chrstmas and all year-round,” says Fred “Pappy” Vineyard, president of the Tri-Cities Motorcyclist Association.
“This year, we’ve had a lot of applications come in and, frankly, we’re overwhelmed by all the need. We want to help as many as we can, but there’s just so much we can do.”
Years ago, there were many more members of the club but, over the years, the groups have split off and developed their own programs and projects. One of the most successful, the toy run, was held several weekends ago. It has been a tradition with riders and non-riders alike for 31 years.
“It was a great ride,” said Vineyard. “It started here at my store and we had approximately 80 riders. We received tremendous support by the KPD by them providing a police escort through town. We always appreciate having them with us.”
The club received many donations of new toys and monetary donations to help make Christmas a little brighter for some area children.
“We really appreciate the riders and individuals who contributed toys and money for the project,” says Vineyard.
Another project of the Motorcycle Club is bicycle “refurbishing.” The club accepts old bicycles, has them repaired/or painted and gives them to area children. This is a year-round project and one that has evolved over the past few years, according to Vineyard.
“When we first started this, we gathered up old, used bikes and took them to Northeast Correctional Facility in Mountain City where the Foggy Mountain Club takes the bikes apart and totally reconditions them. When they are finished, we return to the facility, pick them up and usually give them to children. In recent years, however, many of those bikes are given to adults, who need cheap, affordable means of transportation to get to a job or class,” he said.
At one time, the Tri-Cities Motorcyclist Association brought more old bicycles to the Correctional Facility than any other group - often up to 200 at a time.
With the holidays fast approaching, the motorcycle club is looking for individuals and groups to help make Christmas a little brighter for Kingsport’s less fortunate.
“As part of our Christmas Fund Drive, we set out decorated barrels in various businesses and outside Pappy’s and people are good about dropping off new toys. We also put out collection jars to collect money for food and other necessities that increase this time of year. But we need help and occasionally partner with other groups to help more folks.
Rob Cloud, a long-time rider and vice president of the Tri-Cities Motorcyclist Association, is quick to point out that there’s more than enough need to go around.
“We work with several businesses and groups to try and help people, but the need is growing faster and faster. We help where we can, but we know of a lot more that need some assistance, not just near the holidays, but all through the year,” Cloud said.
“Children, veterans, the homeless, those without jobs - if you can help, we can put you in touch with a lot of people who truly need help. You can do something as simple as drop off a toy, or help collect used bicycles or buy something for a family in need,” said Vineyard. “Anyone and everyone who would like to get involved, just give us a call.”
For more information, contact Vineyard at Pappy’s Custom Ts or call 423-246-9594. To drop off a toy, simply stop by at 244 East Main Street in Downtown Kingsport.