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Bikers rev up Christmas for area family

By Jason A. Smith

jsmith@henryherald.com

Forty-two bikers took a break from the highways, recently, to extend a hand of generosity to a needy family at Christmas time.

The Clayton County chapter of the Harley Owners Group (HOG) teamed with motorcycle enthusiasts at Henry Baptist Church in McDonough.

The purpose of the event, held Dec. 4, was to provide Christmas gifts for a McDonough couple and their three children, according to Norman Schneller, chaplain of the biker group.

"A school counselor at Timberridge Elementary School ... provided me with the name of a family that she had researched," said Schneller, 70. "The thing that is unique about this ride is, you take the gifts right to ... the people. It just makes the ministry to the family that much more meaningful. It's ... an emotional thing for me."

Archie Norman has served as pastor of Henry Baptist Church, at 4035 Jodeco Road in McDonough, for 16 years. He commended the bikers -- including those at his church -- for their collective desire to have a positive impact on others' lives.

"It goes along with our philosophy of 'let's bring these people together -- not just to have fellowship with each other, but also to do something constructive for the community,'" said Pastor Norman, 54. "We try to target our ministry everywhere we possibly can. So this is just one more addition to it. It's a great outreach."

Nine biker couples from the church, as well as single riders within the congregation, participated in the endeavor, said Schneller, who is also the National Director for Christian Motorcycle Fellowship.

"Our main focus, really, is to involve these folks in ministry, rather than just going out, having a good time, eating and that kind of thing," he said.

The local charitable effort, Schneller continued, generated $800 in cash, and more than $2,000 in gifts for the "overwhelmed" family members, whose names were not released.

"It was really, probably, overkill," he said.

Steve Rabideaux, director of HOG's Clayton County chapter, said the project enabled bikers to accomplish a pair of goals at once. "As a riding chapter, we look for every opportunity to, number one, get on our bikes and ride," said Rabideaux, 51, of McDonough. "Number two, when we can get on the bikes and ... help the community at the same time, it's just heartwarming for everybody. When you get into the holiday season, it's even more beneficial, because it's a time when you look for enrichment. This definitely brings in the Christmas spirit."

Rabideaux added that he hopes the family the bikers helped knows how much his group cares about them, and their financial hardships. "Everyone of us has been in a tight situation in our lives," he said. "Everything we heard about this couple, tells us that they both work from daylight until dark, and they're trying. We just wanted to help them."