Smoky River Ryders, left-right, are Sharlene Lambert, Nathan Taylor, Gail Taylor, Ren Lambert, Beverly Lambert, Welin Belhomme, Tammy Stout, David Fedick, and Chantal Chavis. Emily Plihal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Local Northern Alberta motorcycle riding club the Smoky River Ryders made local families’ Christmas a little brighter last month, visiting them with a gift right before Christmas.

The club’s president, Tammy Stout, explains their club tries to spread cheer and help people who may need a little boost throughout the year.

“After going through COVID we felt that it would be nice to spread some cheer to our local community members, show them there are people in our community who care, and we just wanted to put a smile on their faces,” says Stout.

“There were no criteria on how we chose the families,” she adds. “We picked those who maybe lost a loved one this year, or who just moved into the community, families with small children. We also wanted to focus on Metis families being Metis Nation Region 5 was our largest donations given.”

Stout says donations were given to the club by Metis Nation Region 5 and TK Industrial Services. Money was used to purchase gifts and goodies for seniors, elders, and kids in their community.

Impressively, the club was able to deliver to 35 different homes in McLennan.

The club put together a variety of packages to best provide for the families they donated to. Some of the items included children’s toys, gender specific interests, candles, chocolates, blankets, games and many other items.

“We are hoping to make this an annual event, where we will continue to fundraise and accept donations to be able to do a Christmas event for our community,” says Stout. “I am hoping to expand the deliveries or possibly make it a community Christmas dinner offered to the community where Santa will be present to give out gift to the kids.”

Santa was also on hand to make the deliveries to the families, helping to make the children’s evening a little happier. He and Mrs. Claus helped to make the deliveries to the families, toughing out a chilly -25C evening.

Stout says the club feels it’s very important to help their fellow man and their goal is to continue to do good in the community to prove there are people who care.

“We are a group of 10 individuals who are very active, and all have the same mindset of helping one another. . .when we can,” says Stout.

“The biking community is looked upon as being a gang or a bunch of vigilantes, and that is not the case at all. The biking community is very generous and want help wherever we can.”

The Ryders also helped to collect blankets, socks, and clothing for the homeless in Grande Prairie. This initiative was started by REDRUM motorcycle club, and all items were delivered on Dec. 15.

“There is a saying that has been around for many years, ‘It takes a community to raise a child’ and the biking community lives by this idea,” says Stout. “We all come together to do better in our communities, but we expand the saying further as it takes a community to raise a family,” she adds.

“We wanted to spread the love to those we felt would enjoy the gift to someone who may be spending Christmas alone, or lost a loved one, or who has small children who would love to see Santa,” she explains.

“Living in a small community we know everyone, and we are able to make an informed decision on who was going to receive the gifts from our club. We wish we could have delivered to the entire community.”

The club is currently working on an agreement with the Town of McLennan to manage the H.W. Fish Arena. Their plan is to come up with ideas to rent out the arena for other events to benefit the community, things such as dances, markets, and others. They are also planning on hosting paint nights, craft nights, and memory build a bear classes, to name a few.

“We will also have an open house to get ideas of what the community would like to have set up in the building,” Stout says.

“We are open to organize events for the community in the building and utilize the building instead of leaving it vacant.”

Smoky River Ryders is also in the midst of planning the 2023 annual Show and Shine event, with dates expected to be released in the early year.

“The Smoky River Ryders would like to wish everyone a happy and healthy 2023 and we look forward to working with our community to make it an even better place to live,” says Stout.

“We would also like to thank everyone who has supported us during 2022 and we look forward to the journey ahead of us,” she concludes.

By Emily Plihal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jan 05, 2023

This item reprinted with permission from   South Peace News   High Prairie, Alberta
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