LORAIN — Cold rain, a lack of sleep and a pandemic didn’t stop volunteers from Latin American Motorcycle Association’s Lorain chapter from handing out hundreds of home-cooked Thanksgiving meals Wednesday afternoon.
Volunteers from the motorcycle club have worked for weeks to prepare roughly 90 turkeys, countless cans of green beans and heaps of mashed potatoes to feed those in need in Lorain and Cleveland. After stopping at homeless shelters on Cleveland’s east side, they brought bags of the takeout boxes into the Lorain Arts Council building.
LAMA President BeeGee Toro said this is her and her husband’s fourth year distributing food — originally participating with the LAMA Cleveland chapter — and the second year for LAMA Lorain’s distribution. They were set to hand out about 500 meals that afternoon, with plans to visit some of the nearby apartment high-rises or metropolitan housing buildings to bring food to seniors or those without transportation.
“I think we just made it a tradition,” she said of the distribution. “I brought it up when I moved the chapter over here (to Lorain). Especially now, you know how the situation is with COVID-19 — families are not working, they don’t have the (finances) to do a meal or people that have lost families due to COVID or other reasons, we just decided to do it again.”
Club and community members donated or bought the food. Toro said she went to Marc’s and frequently hit the limit of the number of whole turkeys she could purchase — sending her back to the store day after day until she had more than seven dozen birds on hand.
Toro herself cooked 14 turkeys, while Crystal Lovejoy, the club’s business manager, handled another 15 or so, Toro said. Toro said she and other volunteers were at Cathedral Church of God in Christ in Cleveland until 12:30 a.m. Wednesday morning — then back again less than three hours later — putting the finishing touches on the meals in conjunction with Reuben Swift, who hosts a distribution there.
In the days and hours leading up to Wednesday’s event, the effort garnered community support from those with no previous ties to the club.
Mike Resch, a volunteer, met Toro that morning in Cleveland, despite having recently moved back to Lorain after living in Detroit. He had worked at U.S. Steel before taking a position in Michigan. He was laid off at the start of the pandemic, and he took the opportunity to move back home.
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Lending a helping hand Wednesday was a check-mark on Resch’s bucket list, he said.
“This is the first opportunity I’ve had with them, I just met them this morning,” he said. “(There’s) a lot of good things, a lot of good people here.”
Moving into the holiday season, Toro said she and her husband plan to partner with its sister chapter in Detroit to give stuffed animals and toys to children at the Pediatric Burn Center at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan.
This story has been corrected to reflect that Toro and her husband, not the entire LAMA Lorain chapter, plan to partner with the LAMA Detroit chapter to give toys to children at a burn unit there.
Contact Carissa Woytach at (440) 329-7245 or firstname.lastname@example.org.