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Motorcycle club members ride for a cause

December 14, 1997

by Yvette May / staff photographer

Motorcycle club members ride for a cause

By BRENDAN KIRBY

Staff Writer

Sporting a homemade Santa Claus outfit, Arnold "TV" Davis is sure to draw attention cruising down the road on a motorcycle.

But Davis, assistant coordinator of the Washington County chapter of ABATE, said he often gets stranger looks with his leather jacket and naturally long beard.

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"A lot of people perceive us as boozing troublemakers. I've had a lot of people judge me because of my long beard and leather jacket," he said. "It's a great bunch of people getting together trying to help people and change the stereotyping of motorcyclists."

Davis reprised the role of St. Nick at the San Mar Children's Home Christmas party as he has the last three years. A couple dozen members of the motorcycle enthusiast group also dropped off boxes of clothes, food and toys at Adventist Community Services.

ABATE - which stands for A Brotherhood Against Totalitarian Enactments - is best known for its crusade for biker rights. The organization currently is awaiting a court decision on the constitutionality of Maryland's motorcycle helmet law.

But the group's members said they wanted people to see a different side of them Sunday. They toured the West Franklin Street facility, guided by Carl Shafer, the non-profit group's 90-year-old director.

It has become an annual holiday tradition over the last four years for the bikers. Bobby Gearhart, coordinator of the Washington County chapter, said Shafer is the main reason for that.

"I've always respected him. At least I know when I give him something, I know someone who needs it is going to get it," he said.

Wearing a conservative sport coat, Shafer may not look like a natural companion of a motorcycle club. But he made it clear on Sunday that he appreciates ABATE's support.

The charity, which is supported by the county's four Seventh-day Adventist Church congregations, collects food, clothing, toys, furniture and other items. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, the organization distributes items to the homeless, battered women, recently released prisoners and other people in need.

Shafer said the organization also sends clothing to Baltimore, where the gifts are shipped to regions that have been devastated by disasters.

"It's good to know we're making a difference all over the world," said ABATE member Nick "Taz" Tar.

Shafer recalled one homeless man who recently came to the center after it had closed for the evening.

"We gave him something. He went away happy," Shafer said. "We have a lot of people that just need to talk to someone."

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