JENNA-LEY HARRISON, STAFF WRITER
The Charlotte Vulcan Riders Association is hosting its 2nd Annual Cruise for Coats and Poker Run on Saturday with two of this yearâ€™s five stops at locations in the Denver area.
The groupâ€™s president, Jason Jones, whoâ€™s originally from Iron Station but currently lives in Lincolnton, is hopeful that this yearâ€™s clothing drive will total nearly 500 coats in addition to various other winter weather clothing and supplies.
Jones also graduated from East Lincoln High School in 2002.
Currently, the local VRA chapter has only collected half of its target goal in coatsâ€”300.
Last year, the group collected seven bags of clothing and 330 coats, a total that greatly exceeded the groupâ€™s set goal of 250 coats, Jones said.
All items, including scarves, blankets, sweatshirts and socks, will be donated to the Barium Springs Home for Children and a local homeless shelter. However, the group has yet to decide upon a particular shelter.
Despite assumptions that the VRA is a motorcycle club, Jones noted that, more than anything, the group is â€œfamily-oriented.â€
â€œWeâ€™re not technically a motorcycle club, which represents outlaws,â€ he said.
Saturdayâ€™s bike loop starts and ends in Gastonia with stops along the way in Lake Wylie, Huntersville and Denver. At each stop, bikers will meet up with a VRA member who will allow the rider to pick a playing card out of a paper bag. Riders will collect a total of five cards by the end of the route, and the individual with the best hand of cards will receive a prize, Jones explained.
Giveaways to restaurants and motorcycle hangouts will also be given out at Saturdayâ€™s event.
The VRA started the Cruise for Coats just last year after the group decided that it needed to host a charity event of its own. The club was inspired after frequenting other clubsâ€™ charity events, Jones said.
While the group discussed ideas centered on Toys for Tots and cancer fundraisers, they finally resolved to do an event that they felt lends itself to more immediate community aid. However, Jones added that he, in no way, thinks poorly of cancer fundraisers and other charity events.
â€œWith a coat drive, itâ€™s an immediate relief to the community,â€ he said.
Jones explained how, on Saturday, the VRA plans to hand off the clothing and supplies theyâ€™ve collected and send them directly to the donation sites.
In addition to donating clothing items and other winter supplies, the club plans to give at least a portion, if not all of the money raised from food sales, to Barium Springs.
The group additionally hopes to collect enough money to be used for a Christmas party or holiday toy run for the area childrenâ€™s home.
While Saturday is officially the last day that items can be donated, Jones noted that people wishing to give away their unwanted winter wear after this weekend can contact him via phone or email. Individuals can also drop off items anytime at McKenney-Salinas.
Lincoln County collection barrels have been placed at both Sports Page Food & Spirits Restaurant in Denver and Springleaf Financial Service in Lincolnton.
Jones is concerned that the publicâ€™s not as aware as it should be when it comes to understanding and recognizing the extent of needy residents in their communities. He noted that, often times, the homeless population is â€œa sight unseen.â€
â€œI would bet the need is immensely greater than what people think,â€ he said. â€œPeople live their day-to-day lives and donâ€™t even realize thereâ€™s a lot of homeless around. If our winter is cold like our summer has been hot, they will need all they can get to stay warm.â€
Registration for the Poker Run starts at 9 a.m. at McKenney-Salinas PowerSports. The first bike is set to drive out at 10:15 a.m. Cost of registration is $25 and includes a T-shirt, patch and meal. Boston Butts will also be on sale at the event for $30 apiece.
For more information, contact Jason Jones at 704-530-4070 or email him at President@Charlottevra.com.