Martha’s Vineyard Harley Riders ride for toys for tots

Martha’s Vineyard Harley Riders ride for toys on Sunday, Nov. 13. - MV Times

According to a press release, if you show up Sunday, Nov. 13, anytime between 9:30 and 11 am at the P.A. Club in Oak Bluffs, you’ll be treated to the sight of a group of Harley riders suited up like Santa, preparing to ride around the Island, collecting toys and money for the Red Stocking Fund.

At about 11 am, after coffee, doughnuts, and discussions about Christmas lists and wishes (“world peace” was a popular wish at last year’s gathering), the riders will be off. They’ll stop at the Oak Bluffs Steamship pier, the Edgartown Sharkey’s, the Tashmoo parking lot, and Conroy’s Apothecary in West Tisbury, and drive through Vineyard Haven on their way back to the club. On their way, they’ll pick up toys and checks from well-wishers.

Susie Wallo, the co-chairman of the Red Stocking Fund, will greet the riders when they return, and the group will sit down to a “dinner of baked chicken, baked by my wife, Lisa,” according to Rainey Mathieu, president of the Harley Riders Club. Then the group will bestow a check and toys on the organization. Last year, the riders presented Ms. Wallo with a check for $13,598.

Since the 1930s, the local nonprofit has provided gifts for kids whose families are in need. Every year the Red Stocking Fund distributes toys, clothing, and books for 300 to 400 children.

There are numerous ways to take part in the effort. People can send a check, drop off toys at boxes set up at various Island businesses, or call to arrange a drop-off of gifts. Everything must be new and unwrapped. “We can’t give gently used clothing or toys,” Ms. Wallo said in an interview with The Times last year. “It’s a federal law.”

People can also sponsor a child. Anyone interested in this option will be provided with the age and gender of a child in need. They can purchase either clothing (sizes provided) or toys (from the child’s wish list), or both. All kids get pajamas, underwear, and socks. Parents provide a list of the most-needed items — winter coats, boots, etc. “A lot of families choose to sponsor a child or siblings,” says Ms. Wallo, “so that their children understand how blessed they are to have what they have, and so that they can share their blessings with those who aren’t as fortunate.”

Book clubs and church groups often get together to sponsor kids, according to Ms. Wallo.

If you won’t be around to hand toys to the riders, you can find collection boxes at the Edgartown Stop and Shop, Alley’s General Store, Brickman’s (toy department), Reliable Market, and the Lazy Frog in Oak Bluffs.

To make a donation, send a check made out to Red Stocking Fund to P.O. Box 600, Edgartown, MA 02539, or call Susie Wallo at 508-776-6050.