Motorcycle club gets toys for tots

By Ryn Gargulinski: QCS

A new motorcycle club just rolled into town – but they’re not the average biker club, said the organization’s Sgt. at Arms Jim McElroy.

Yes, they do ride motorcycles. Yes, there are a bunch of them – 43 to be exact. But rather than merely rev down highways with their hair flapping the breeze, their first project is a food and toy drive to help the Children’s Protective Association in Tucumcari and Conchas.

The club in question is officially billed as the American Legion Riders Motorcycle Association, specifically in Quay and San Miguel counties, where no local American Legion exists, they are a chapter of the Arch Fitzsimmons Legion Post #19.

“Although we are a motorcycle club, we’re not the stigma of what people think of when they think of a motorcycle club,” McElroy explained. “We promote the youth, things to benefit veterans,” he said, naming a few of their many causes.

Their premiere project is their first annual food and toy run, McElroy said, adding they inherited the project when an organization that normally ran the run weren’t going to do it this year.

Area residents are urged to donate two cans of food and a toy worth $10 or less, said Motorcycle Assoc. President Glen “Bear” Whitener, with the donations split 25 percent for Conchas kids, 75 percent for Tucumcari tots and anything collected above and beyond to benefit victims of Hurricane Rita and Katrina. Donations can be dropped of at Tucumcari’s bowling alley or the Legion building in Conchas through Dec. 10, McElroy said.

Anyone who wants to drive in the drive can come to the bowling alley at 3 p.m. on Dec. 10 where there will be food, refreshments, bowling and pool, said Whitener’s wife Rose “Mama Bear” Whitener.

“Their mission is to participate in ceremonies that are in keeping with the aims and purposes of the Legion; to promote motorcycle safety programs and atmosphere for American Legion members and the association’s philosophy in promoting and supporting programs of the local chapter,” said Elearnore Carney, editor of a Conchas publication.

But not just anyone can join, McElroy said, adding one must be a part of one of the Legion’s base organizations. This includes the Sons of the American Legion, the American Legion Auxiliary, other relatives of Legion members or the American Legion itself.

They also welcome associate members, McElroy said, who are members of the Legion or relatives who wish to be part of the motorcycle club but do not own a motorcycle.

“They can ride with us in their cars,” McElroy said.

In addition to the food and toy drive, McElroy said the motorcycle chapter is planning a ride to the Vietnam memorial in Angel Fire and are backing the Legion in its support of the area hospice, Little League and the Pink Ladies.

“The Legion raised $40,000 in funds last year,” McElroy said, adding the addition of a motorcycle chapter will only add to the strength of the Legion.

“It’s another method of promoting fellowship and camaraderie,” McElroy said of the club, “and the power of numbers.”

What: First annual food and toy drive
Who: American Legion Motorcycle Assoc. chapter of Arch Fitzsimmons Legion Post #19
When: Donations of two cans and one toy accepted through Dec. 10
Where: Drop off at the Legion building in Conchas or the bowling alley in Tucumcari
Why: Benefits go to the Children’s Protective Assoc. in Tucumcari and Conchas

To participate in the driving part of the drive: Show up at Tucumcari’s bowling alley at 3 p.m. on Dec. 10, on two wheels or four, for food, drinks, bowling and pool.

American Legion Motorcycle Assoc.
Chapter of Arch Fitzsimmons Legion Post #19


Glen “Bear” Whitener, President
Wayne “Walrus” Hermanson, Vice-president
Kathy “Kat” Cooper, Secretary
Dean “Deano” Cooper, Treasurer
Jim McElroy, Sgt. at Arms
Chris Carl, Road Captain
Judy “Suomi” Hermanson, Historian
Rick Haymaker, Chaplain