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Motorcyclists' generosity a highlight for food bank

December 13, 2009|By JULIE E. GREENE

HAGERSTOWN -- Icy roads didn't keep the motorcyclists-rights group ABATE of Maryland from delivering its annual donation of food and clothes to the ACTS 9 food bank on Sunday morning.

Santa pulled up to the downtown Hagerstown food bank on a Yamaha Venture, one of two motorcycles escorting three pickup trucks carrying food and clothes.

"Today is just the highlight of our year," said Sandy Martin, executive director of ACTS 9. "We look forward to this every year."

This is the 17th year ABATE's Washington County chapter has brought food to the food bank, said Clarence "Tuck" Koontz Jr., chapter director.

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"It's a way of helping your fellow man out. This is the time of year to do something for everyone, which is what everyone should be doing," said Koontz, 55, of Hagerstown.

After leaving the food bank, local members of ABATE headed to San Mar Children's Home, where they were to hold a Christmas party for 31 girls. San Mar, near Boonsboro, runs a shelter care program for girls.

ABATE, which Koontz said stands for Alliance of Bikers Against Totalitarian Enactments, has been holding the Christmas party for 25 years, he said.

The motorcycle group raised money for the food bank donations during the year with raffles, 50/50 drawings and requests for donations.

Johnny Strouth, 51, of Smithsburg, said he went to several places in the Tri-State area with a plastic tube, asking people to donate to the food drive. He said $1,052 was raised.

ACTS 9, or Adventists Caring Through Sharing, is a food and clothing bank supported by five area Seventh-day Adventist churches, Martin said.

The food and clothing bank has seen more customers this year, while donations decreased, Martin said. ACTS 9 helped more than 5,000 people this year, she said.

"But so far, we've really been blessed and it seems to come in when we need it," Martin said. "We add at least five new families a day," she said.

In order to use ACTS 9 services, families need to have a Washington County food card, which is issued by Community Action Council.

The food bank at 35 E. Washington St. is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays. It will be open through Dec. 22 and will reopen Jan. 5.

Usually ABATE arrives on several motorcycles, but only two bikers -- Santa and Koontz -- braved the icy roads Sunday morning on two wheels. The freezing rain turned into rain by the time the group arrived downtown.

"Even though there's nasty weather, we try to put a little sunshine into everybody's lives," said ABATE member Fritz Sine, 58, of Chewsville.

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