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Bikers deliver gifts as part of Secret Santa program
Program benefits needy children
Angela Luke, of Clayton places her toy in with others for the Chattahoochee Baptist Association Sunday afternoon as she and husband Joe take part in the association’s Secret Santa motorcycle run. Dozens of bikers joined the caravan from Buford to bring their gifts.

A group of motorcyclists streamed Sunday afternoon down McEver Road in West Hall, bearing gifts for the Chattahoochee Baptist Association’s annual Secret Santa program.

“Here they come!” shouted some people on the lookout for the arriving group.

With a police escort, drivers and riders on some 65 cycles braved the cold, with a pickup truck and trailer with toys and packages bringing up the rear.

Frazier’s Harley Davidson on Friendship Road in Buford organizes the annual motorcycle run, which completed its 17th year.

“This is an out-of-sight unbelievable event every year for me,” Mike Walston, the director of church and community ministries at the association, told the bikers after they had arrived. “I talk about this all year long.”

The association, which is at 1220 McEver Road, is trying to gather toys and other items for some 700 needy children and their families this Christmas, officials said.

“It is tougher this year to get the presents than any other year we have had, because of the economy,” Walston said.

The organization has sponsored the Secret Santa program for 20-plus years.

Good Samaritan Baptist Church, which has started holding “biker friendly” services at the association, cooked up hamburgers and hot dogs for the arriving group, which numbered at 100-plus.

The pastor, the Rev. Kenny Rice, spoke to the group briefly, thanking the bikers for their effort.

“I just can’t imagine how blessed we are here because you guys came out in the cold and did this today,” he said. “We do appreciate it.”

Rice also said a prayer.

One of the riders, Vanessa Schaeffer of Gainesville, said this is her second year participating in the event as a biker.

“There is need here and it’s a great group of people,”  she said. “It’s a beautiful day and it’s not that cold — I’m from Chicago, so it’s all relative, I suppose.”

Schaeffer praised the program.

“It’s a good thing to do. You can do it anonymously,” she said. “Selfishly, it’s really fun for us. It seems to make a big difference.”