Santa rides a motorcycle

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One of the wonderful aspects of the Christmas season, which has just passed into history, is the flood of people and organizations who give generously, often to needy families and children.

There are the more famous efforts — Salvation Army, Toys for Tots — and others less well known contributors to happiness, including fire departments, police departments, and many churches.

One of the least known groups who almost always are quietly raising money and giving gifts are motorcycle clubs.

Almost all motorcycle clubs, especially the serious bikers, are involved in assisting charitable organizations, particularly those that help kids.

For the third Christmas in a row, for example, members of the local chapter of the Iron Order Motorcycle Club (IOMC) donated gifts to children in Coweta County under the care of the Georgia Department of Family and Children’s Services.

Throughout the year, the chapter hosted parties and sold items that allowed them to put aside money for Christmas.

This year, members of the chapter went on a shopping spree and bought $1,000 worth of toys and gifts that were presented to Ms. Frances Smith, of the Newnan Police Department, who coordinates with the Iron Order.

While children 2 to 17 receive gifts, the Iron Order puts much of its efforts in buying gifts for older teenagers who are often forgotten at Christmas time. The children receiving gifts all had some connection with the Department of Children and Family Services.

While the Christmas effort is the main focus of the year, the local IOMC bikers regularly assist and participate in fund-raising efforts.

This past year saw the chapter involved in breast cancer prevention and treatment and several other fund-raisers throughout the year, often riding out of state to assist in other chapters’ charitable efforts

The Iron Order, founded in 1994, is the largest law-abiding motorcycle club in the world and has members from all walks of life — firefighters, paramedics, salesmen, military personnel, lawyers, police officers, and even judges and clergy, to name a few.

The Newnan Chapter, (a.k.a. “Iron Fist Chapter”) was established over three years ago and, while based in Newnan, has members from Lamar, Fayette, Coweta, Spalding, and Troup counties. The local chapter has a website at http://www.iomcironfist.com/.

Each prospective member goes through a vetting and probationary process that can take as much as a year. No felons are allowed and each person is expected to support the by-laws and goals of the organization, including participation in charity rides.

When one thinks of the bearded guy who brings gifts, one doesn’t usually think of Harleys instead of reindeer or bikers’ vests instead of a red suit.

But Santa comes in many forms.

So the next time you see a biker roaring down the road, don’t make a judgment based on noise or appearance. The likelihood is that the biker in question was Santa Claus to kids that wouldn’t have had much of a Christmas without him.

[David Epps is the founding rector of the Cathedral of Christ the King in Sharpsburg, GA and the Bishop Ordinary for the Diocese of the Mid-South (Tennessee and Georgia) for the Charismatic Episcopal Church. He is also the associate endorser for U. S. military chaplains.]