Ghost Riders working to make Christmas brighter for local kids

Published 5:00 pm Monday, November 8, 2021

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After a record-opening Saturday, donations continued to fill the buckets of the Ghost Riders Motorcycle Club Christmas drive on Sunday at the Elizabethton Walmart.

The club raised $14,000 and served more than 100 children last year. This year, the club hopes to serve 252 children ages newborn to 17.

“We are working with the Elizabethton Housing Development Agency,” said Jeffrey Stout, president of the Carter County Ghost Riders chapter. “If people want to come by and donate money — everything that they donate — is spent here at Walmart, which is the agreement we have for letting us set up here.

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“The Elizabethton Housing Authority gives us a list of different age groups of kids and we buy everything that we can for kids in those age groups like winter coats and things that they need. And then from there, providing generous donations, we provide them with toys.”

After the essentials are purchased, the group finishes out Christmas by purchasing as many bicycles as they can in different sizes. These bikes are raffled off to the children during the gift handout.

Families served come from all of the housing authority units including Arney Hill, Southside, Lynnwood, and Lynnridge apartments according to Stout.

“The giving is up this year,” Stout said. Saturday was the first day of collections, and Stout said donations were at a record high. Collections will continue Nov. 13 and 14.

“Since we have been doing the drive, it has gotten better every year,” Stout said. “The generosity of the community around here is amazing. If anyone does want to donate and they are afraid that their money is not going where we say it’s going — I get it. They can actually buy toys new in the box and donate toys as well.

“We will have everything sitting up front at the main entrance for the things we have purchased for that day. There is normally someone up there that keeps tracks of all the toys.”

The Ghost Riders will take all the purchased items to the housing authority, where the gifts will be sorted before being distributed.

“A lot of television shows have gave the biker community a bad name,” said Stout. “We come out here and do things like this, whether they think we are bad people or not, we know what we are doing and it doesn’t matter what the people think as long as the ones that do know what we are doing and knows where the money goes remember that. A lot of kids wouldn’t have a Christmas without us doing this.

“It’s amazing to see all the kids come through and how happy it makes the kids. It’s more about the kids than it is us. We stand out here and collect the money and if people don’t donate it doesn’t do any good.”