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HOGS give a helping hand

HOGS give a helping hand

If nothing sounds quite like a throaty, muscular Harley-Davidson ' as all Harley owners agree ' then just think how a whole bunch of Harleys sound when they're bringing your dinner.

A slew of seniors got to find out Friday when a dozen dazzlingly decorated bikes of the local HOGs (Harley Owners Group) crammed saddlebags and tiny trailers full of boxed meat loaf and gravy, scalloped potatoes and mixed vegetables and delivered them to clients of Food and Friends.

We love any excuse to get out and ride on a nice day, especially when we can do some good things for people, said HOG director Susan Summers of Medford, warming up her candy-apple purple machine. Our 170 members are always game to help out and to show we're not evil and bad like bike gangs of the sixties. We were good guys when these seniors were young and now we're good again.

Biker John Great of Medford said they noticed one elderly lady at a nursing home always get excited when they came by (she had biked as a young woman), so We went back one day and gave her a ride and it was a huge thrill for her.

The bikers, whose hogs provide a great magnet for media attention, volunteer for many charities, said biker Mike Vincent of Medford. Charities have included the Children's Miracle Network and Bikers Have Heart, both fund-raisers for ailing children.

— For former biker Arthur Taylor and the 452 other elderly and disabled clients of Food and Friends, the hot meals on hot wheels was a special treat.

Back in '49, I rode a Harley 74 bored out to an 80, laughed Taylor, 75, now disabled from accidents in local mills. He lives in Medford without pension on Social Security. Taylor and his wife, Alice, 76, are brought breakfast by a daughter and, with Food and Friends, get by most of the time, she said.

Sometimes we don't have enough to eat and we just forget about it and have coffee to get by, said Alice Taylor.

Two-thirds of Food and Friends recipients are over age 80, said spokeswoman Sally Melton, and 70 percent of them live alone.

Happy to get his three meals to last through the weekend, Jim Shaw, 62, said the food, combined with meals he bicycles to at St. Vincent de Paul kitchen, get him by 'as long as I take pain pills before the bike ride. He lives in a camper behind a residence on Central Avenue in Medford. A Navy veteran with bone cancer, he has Social Security disability of &

36;645 a month.

Some of our recipients are pretty isolated and living in tiny apartments and trailers, said Melton. For them, the Food and Friends driver is about the only person they see all day. Most of the volunteer drivers stop and chat with them for a while and see how they're doing. Friendships grow out of these visits and that's why we're called Food and Friends.

Melton called out the HOG bikers, she said, to bring attention during the nationwide March for Meals campaign.

We need the community to understand what a vital service it is to feed the elderly and frail and that we always need money to support this and keep it going.

Donations may be sent to Food and Friends, P.O. Box 3275, Central Point, OR 97502. Those wanting to volunteer as drivers may call Melton at 664-6676, ext. 216.

John Darling is a free-lance writer living in Ashland. E-mail him at jdarling@jeffnet.org.

Members of the local Harley Owners Group ride in pairs Friday on their way to delivering meals for the Food and Friends program. Mail Tribune / Roy Musitelli - Mail Tribune Roy Musitelli