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Bikers become angels at Christmas

Selma Riders Riding Club has been preparing for two weeks, with the help of Bikers for Christ, for the Dec. 19 event at 6 p.m. at Crosspoint Christian Church on Dallas Avenue for the children of the Prison Fellowship, an organization within the Angel Tree Foundation, that offers Christmas gifts to children of parents who are incarcerated.

All 16 children registered with the Prison Fellowship program for Dallas County are invited to the dinner are Selma area residents.

“The club is made of local motorcycle enthusiasts who want to do charity work,” said Miles Thompson, president of Selma Riders Riding Club. “We don’t have a set charity other than the Angel Tree Foundation for children of incarcerated parents.”

Club members raised money to purchase presents, bought all items and divided up the children’s presents and each will wrap a child’s gifts before Saturday’s dinner.

“But, these gifts are presents on behalf of the parents,” Thompson said. “The club is transparent.”

Each gift will have a tag signed with the parent’s name, rather than from the club.

“We’re there putting the party on [for] them, but the parents ‘give’ them the presents,” said David White, Club member.

Younger children are excited about the presents, but the older children are not necessarily as excited because they understand the presents are not really coming from their parents, Thompson said.

Caregivers create a list of items the children need, clothing sizes and some items the children would like for fun.

“It’s not all toys and candy,” Thompson said. “It’s shoes and jackets and clothes too.”

Of the caregivers, Thompson or other club members have called to confirm sizing and attendance at the upcoming dinner, all have been overjoyed with the generosity, Thompson said.

“They are thrilled,” Thompson said. “We’ve had people break down when we’re talking to them.”

The Selma Riders Riding Club has been in Selma for four years, but this is the second year for the club to participate with the Angel Tree program.

“No one else seems to gravitate to this group, so we’ll keep up with this,” Thompson said.

The Prison Fellowship’s Angel Tree began in 1982 in Birmingham, by Mary Kay Beard, an ex-prisoner who served part of a 22-year sentence for burglary, grand larceny and robbery, according to DeMoss News of the Angel Tree Foundation. Beard spent six Christmases watching women gather and package small items received from charity groups for children.

There are about 1.7 million children in the U.S. who have a parent serving a sentence in federal prison, according to DeMoss News. The average age of these children is 8 years old.