Santa’s helpers are Harley Riders

And the Red Stocking Fund drives home the cause.

Harley Riders outside the PA Club. —Ralph Stewart

The Red Stocking Fund has a history of making sure all Island kids receive gifts around the holidays. The tradition started in 1938 when Islander Addie Crist and a group of friends decided to knit red stockings with the belief that every kid needed something to wear, something to play with, and something to eat. All six original red stockings were stuffed with handmade mittens or socks, a package of fruits or nuts, and a small toy like a ball or a doll. 

From there, the tradition grew and grew. It blossomed so much that last year the Red Stocking Fund ensured 304 children receive gifts from Santa. The fund estimates the demand will be about the same this year. 

Red Stocking gifts are for infants up to middle-school children who otherwise would not receive gifts around the holidays. The fund distributes warm winter clothing, food, books, art supplies, and a donated toy.  

Santa’s helpers — or in this case, Red Stocking Fund helpers — aren’t just elves and reindeer, they’re Harley Riders. The Martha’s Vineyard Harley Riders offer important annual contributions to the cause. Every year in early November, riders meet at the Portugese American (PA) Club in Oak Bluffs. They ride around the Island with Santa, collecting toys from different locations before returning to the PA club for lunch — culminating in their presentation of gifts and a check to the Red Stocking Fund from participating Island businesses.

The Red Stocking Fund organizers believe angels are everywhere, and the Island is tremendously supportive. And there are many ways to help. The Red Stocking fund needs cash donations in order to buy clothes and food. Toy donations are always welcome, and drop-off boxes can be found at down-Island Cronigs, Shirley’s Hardware, Conroy’s Apothecary, Reliable Market, and Lazy Frog. The Fund can also be contacted directly with donations, contributions, and questions at 508-776-6050. 

Red Stocking Fund applications are available at Island schools, health care locations, and most banks. Gift pick-up day is Dec. 13 between 9 am and noon.  

For donations or questions, contact or co-chairs Susie Wallo, 508-776-6050; Sandy Joyce, 508-776-0801; or by mail at Red Stocking, P.O. Box 600, Edgartown, MA 02539.