ABATE and GAL/CASA partnership provides some holiday cheer for kids

American Bikers Aimed Toward Education Indiana Region 7 Jackson County recently partnered with the Jackson County Guardian ad Litem/Court Appointed Special Advocates program to hold a Christmas party to help bring the holiday experience to some local children.

ABATE was able to raise more than $4,000 for the event, said Don Boling of the local ABATE chapter.

He said the funds came courtesy of the organization’s generous local sponsors.

“We have some really good dedicated sponsors here in Jackson County that when you talk kids are missing something, they dig deep in their pockets. I mean, we’ve got some really good sponsors out there that every year for Christmas, they dig deep,” he said.

ABATE hosted similar events with Head Start in previous years but was unable to get in touch with new leadership to continue those efforts. With helping local children as one of the group’s top priorities, they began searching for new ways to help, which led to them deciding to work with GAL/CASA.

“We agreed to help CASA because it’s going to stay local and it’s going to help a few out, but it’s also going to stay and help the kids that need it,” Boling said.

“To be able to find this place and how we can help the kids of Jackson County, it works wonderfully,” fellow ABATE member Darrell Crockett said.

The event included food provided by Brewskies Downtown in Seymour, gifts for each child, activities and the opportunity to meet Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus. It was organized to provide the children a full holiday experience.

“We thought of it as Christmas, really,” Crockett said.

“If they can say they got something for Christmas, they got to see Santa Claus and had a good time, that’s our heart and goal right there,” Boling added.

In preparation for the event, ABATE worked to find out what each individual child wanted and got busy shopping to hunt the items down.

“We had a list of names, what they wanted and how many boys, how many girls and we went and cleaned the shelves of Walmart,” Boling said.

Crockett, who had previously played Santa in similar events, recalled an emotional past experience where ABATE had helped make Christmas special for a child.

“They would come sit on Santa’s lap, and I never knew how much everybody else had worked. I remember one young man sat on my lap one year and told me about this helicopter toy that turned and shot guns. And in my mind, I’m thinking that’s a $50, $80 present, there’s no way. When he opened his present, that’s exactly what it was, and that brought Santa to tears,” he said.

Boling feels some people may have the wrong impression of ABATE based on members’ biker roots, but he feels their reach goes far beyond motorcycle enthusiasts.

“A lot of people put down ABATE because it’s a biker organization. We are more than just a biker’s organization. We actually get out and help the kids out in the community,” he said.

With more than 100 reservations made for the party between children and their guardians, they certainly helped local children this year.

Given the success of the event, ABATE is looking to host something similar annually.

“We’ve done this for many years, and it will go on for many years,” Crockett said.

“As long as they want to work with this and they want to keep helping us out, they’re going to get it,” Boling added.