Despite their sometimes tough exteriors, more than 60 motorcycle riders showed their softer sides Saturday in Murrieta.
For the last month, residents of Murrieta Gardens Assisted Living and Memory Care facility, their family and friends, as well as other residents in the city, have donated more than 300 backpacks and suitcases as part of the facility's third annual "Suitcases For Kids" drive.
On Saturday, three Riverside County motorcycle clubs, the Warriors of Honor, the Vietnam Vets/Legacy Vets and the Temecula Angels, also participated by donating luggage. They also visited with residents of Murrieta Gardens.
“When we heard about the event and who it benefited, we knew we had to do something,” said Jim Scott, president of the local Vietnam Vets/Legacy Vets club.
Like other club members who participated, Scott heard of the fundraiser through Leslie Rainey, a biker and current employee of the facility.
“I knew that once these guys (referring to the clubs) heard about what we were doing here, they would want to help,” said Rainey.
Help they did.
More than 60 bikers from the three different clubs showed up, many in full riding gear, to deliver additional backpacks, suitcases and other luggage.
The “Suitcases for Kids” collection effort benefits the HUGS Foster Family Agency, which serves Riverside, Orange and San Bernardino counties.
“When a child enters Foster care, he/she is in a time of crisis and confusion. Often the child’s possessions are stuffed in a garbage bag or box,” said Carrie Ann Compton, marketing director for the facility. “The donated suitcases are expected to make the transition for foster kids a little less jarring.”
Resident Jo Beese, 90, knows first-hand the effects of carrying everything you own in a plastic bag.
“My family used to foster children and many would arrive with their belongings in a plastic bag,” Beese said. “This is such a great cause; being able to have something to call your own, to carry what little treasures you have can have such a rewarding effect."
Compton was pleased with the response from the community response and the positive impact it has on the residents of the facility.
“They love giving back to the community,” Compton said. “Our residents have lived full lives, had great experiences and want to give back to a community they love."
New or used suitcases, luggage, backpacks or satchels are being accepted through Feb. 23 at Murrieta Gardens Assisted Living and Memory Care, 24200 Monroe Ave., Murrieta.