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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Windsor HOG raises $1150 for Essex Area Food Bank, $3,550 for Santa’s Cause for Kids


by Sylene Argent, Local Journalism Initiative The Essex Area Food Bank and Santa’s Cause for Kids got a financial boost on Sunday, as the Windsor Harley Owners Group (HOG) provided a donation to each organization at an event hosted at the Canadian Transportation Museum & Heritage Village (CTMHV), revving up support before the holiday season hits.

On October 1, the Windsor Harley Owners Group hosted a Toy Run, which invited members and motorcycle enthusiasts to meet at Thunder Road Harley-Davidson in Windsor and ride down to the Canadian Transportation Museum & Heritage Village. After the run, those who participated enjoyed a barbecue at the local Museum that preserves local automotive history.

Those who participated were asked to make a financial donation for the two beneficiaries and had the option of dropping off a new, unwrapped toy to further support the annual Santa’s Cause for Kids toy drive. With around 70 participants, Ron VanMackelberg, who is a Director for the local motorcycle group, said the event outcome exceeded his expectations.

As a result, the Windsor Harley Owners Group was able to donate $1150 to the Essex Area Food Bank and $3,550 to the Santa’s Cause for Kids toy drive, in addition to an array of toy donations that were forwarded at the event.

VanMackelberg noted the Windsor Harley Owners Group has hosted this toy run in the past, but this was the first time the proceeds were donated to the Essex Area Food Bank and the Santa’s Cause for Kids organizations. He noted those who participated were proud to support both causes. He thanked the community for their involvement and support.

Gerry Belanger, Coordinator for the Essex Area Food Bank, was thrilled to receive the donation. He noted the need at the local food bank has increased. In 2022, part of which was still affected by COVID, he noted the Essex Area Food Bank provided around 7541 meals to individuals who utilize the Food Bank. That could be once a month for some, to two or three times a month for others.

There has been a big increase on the Food Bank this year. He noted that many seniors have had to sign up because the cost of living has increased, making it difficult for many seniors to make ends meet.

“Your donation will do a lot of good. Thank you. The food bank really appreciates it,” Belanger told the members of Windsor HOG.

“I can’t thank this group enough,” OPP Constable Joe Meloche said, who started the Santa’s Cause for Kids toy collection over two-decades ago, because he saw the need in the community.


Meloche noted the Windsor Harley Owners Group donation was a big booster to the annual toy drive. Thanks to community support things have gotten to a point where the Santa’s Cause for Kids program has gone so well, it may be in a position to support other communities, after the Essex community has been taken care of, if there is a need, Meloche said.

In addition to collecting toys for families facing economic hardships, the Santa’s Cause for Kids program collects gift cards for 12 to 18-year-old youths, too. These funds will go a long way and help to support the program, helping to ensure many youths get a Christmas gift this year.

After Remembrance Day, community members will notice the Santa’s Cause for Kids signs going up in local businesses. At that point, community members and shoppers at those local businesses are urged to leave a new, unwrapped gift to support the program.


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