Harley riders rev up the holidays with gift giving at Wyndham Lawn
BY: Rikki Cason | December 08, 2012
For a group of students at the Wyndham Lawn Youth Home in Lockport, Christmas was made extra special this year.
On Monday, dressed in leathers and denim, more than 30 plus members of the Niagara Falls Harley Owners Group (H.O.G.) made their annual journey to New Directions’ Wyndham Lawn, presents in tow.
This was the 26th year H.O.G. has given presents to the children at the youth home.
Each year the group speaks with Development Director Brad Sande and the staff of New Directions to determine what the students at Wyndham Lawn are in need of. In the past they have donated televisions, a washer, a microwave, outdoor sporting equipment and games.
Last year they donated pots, pans and other cooking utensils to help teach some of the students’ life skills.
“It’s all based on them,” said H.O.G. activities officer Andre Savard, a seven year club member from the Town of Tonawanda. “The staff picks the cottage and picks the need.”
Wyndham Lawn currently has 40 students from age 7 to 18 years old. The students live in one of four cottages on the grounds, split up by age and gender.
“Whyndam Lawn can’t always buy what kids need,” said H.O.G. Director Jack Gorman. “We want to make sure kids have what they need.”
Gorman lives in Cambria and has been a member of H.O.G. for 12 years.
He said each year the members look forward to seeing the kids open their gifts and interact with them.
Sande said he and his staff also like watching as the ice is broken and students begin to interact with the members, dressed in their leathers, and play games.
“The children need a sign of support and be shown the world is a good place,” said Sande. “For the staff, it’s confirmation that our mission here is worth supporting and remembering.”
This year’s gifts included two Wii game consoles, extra Wii remotes and various Wii games, including a Harley-Davidson game.
Wii’s were selected by both the children and H.O.G. because of the various health benefits gained by using the motion required gaming system. Many of the games were selected by H.O.G. based on their fitness benefits for children.
“This is a great place to donate,” said Savard.
Each year, gifts are able to be donated through the proceeds from all of the motorcycle runs the group does throughout the year. The Blessing of the Bikes spring event is the biggest run of the year, with more than 900 bikes participating.
The groups also receives donations and sponsorships, which helps defray costs to run the events, so more can be given to charity and to those in need.
H.O.G. also supports K9 Helpers, Niagara Falls Community Mission, Make-A-Wish and provides feed for one horse for a year for the Lothlorien Therapeutic Riding Center in East Aurora.
“We want to give it all away,” said Savard. “We always hope by the end of the year we are broke.”
H.O.G. is sponsored by the American Harley-Davidson store in North Tonawanda.
Niagara Falls Harley Owners Group has more than 240 members from all around Western New York, including Niagara Falls, Lockport and North Tonawanda. Members come from as far as Hamburg to participate in the biggest club in the area. The only requirement to join is a Harley.
Founded in Lockport, New Directions Youth and Family Services is a private non-profit agency that provides highly specialized services and programs for youth with emotional, educational and behavioral challenges. New Direction fosters a strength-based, family-centered living environment for youth based on respect, responsibility, safety and goal achievement.
New Directions Youth and Family Services oversees specialized centers for living and learning through the Randolph Children’s Home in Randolph and the Wyndham Lawn.