Harley Riders are a gift to Islanders

Once again, these motorcycle enthusiasts lend a hand to the Red Stocking Fund.


Santa rode to the Island on his hog again this year, bringing bikes, toys, and thousands of dollars in donations to the Red Stocking Fund.

The 2019 Red Stocking Fund Harley Ride was a huge success, with over $12,000 donated to provide food, toys, gifts, and assistance to Island families in need during the holidays.

For 30 years, Martha’s Vineyard Harley Riders president Renee Mathieu said, the event has brought holiday joy to Island children and families. During the ride, participants enjoy a ride around the Island with Santa Claus, and collect toys and money from the donation boxes. After the ride, everyone returns to the Portuguese-American Club for a hearty and plentiful chicken dinner. Everything is tallied up, and the gifts and donations are brought to the Red Stocking Fund to be distributed to Island kids in need.

“As the holidays come closer and closer, everyone is thinking about folks who don’t have toys to put under the tree for Christmas, or can’t have a nice dinner to celebrate,” Mathieu said.

Over the years, Mathieu said, the community involvement grows, but the Harley Riders membership on the Island is in need of some help.

“Our membership is shrinking, the club is getting smaller,” Mathieu said. “Hopefully in the future we can encourage people and get some folks to join up. It’s for a good cause.”

Mathieu said that when the club started in the mid-’80s, they collected toys and went around to every business asking for donations. Back then, he said donations were made directly to Island families, but the club eventually found the Red Stocking Fund, and immediately knew they had met their beneficiary. 

“Our club is all about raising money and giving it to organizations. We did a lot for Hospice. Now the Red Stocking Fund is an incredible organization that really helps the entire Island,” Mathieu said.

According to Mathieu, this year’s ride was attended by all ages of riders from different states.

“It was a great ride. It’s always so much fun — people are just so happy to give their time and effort,” Mathieu said.

Mathieu said he has had the opportunity to personally deliver gifts to children in need, and he said it is a blessing.

“I get to see the faces light up with smiles. When kids get a gift and they didn’t expect to get anything for the holidays, well, that’s pretty special,” Mathieu said. “Our childhood is everything, and our memories of Christmas and the holidays are so important.”

In the future, Mathieu said, he hopes to grow membership and strengthen the initiative. 

“This is one of our biggest efforts. It really helps the Island, and I hope we can continue it with some new members,” Mathieu said.

Red Stocking Fund co-chair Susie Wallo said she is thankful for the Harley Riders and their dedication to the well-being of the Island community,

“They’re incredible people. Salt of the earth, so giving, so kind, and the money they collect is so important to kids all across the Vineyard,” Wallo said. “They have chosen our little Red Stocking Fund as a beneficiary, and we feel very blessed.”

If you would like to donate to the Red Stocking Fund, call 508-776-6050, or email redstockingfund@gmail.com.