081119-du-vets

The Veterans Motorcycle Club raised funds and gathered toys for Operation North Pole.

The Veterans Motorcycle Club raised funds with help from the American Legion Riders for Fort Riley’s Operation North Pole, which benefits the children of soldiers in need during the Christmas season.hThrough a Christmas in July-style toy drive a poker run, $1,700 was raised and several large boxes of toys were gathered, to be donated to families of transitioning or deployed soldiers, this holiday season.

There were five stops on the poker run and the last one was in Junction City.

They chose to do the toy run in July because, while most choose to do them in October, they thought they’d get a better turnout in warmer weather.

“It’s a community building event for both the American Legion and the American Legion Riders and the Veterans Motorcycle Club,” David Apgar said.

Though they’re different organizations, both groups are made up of veterans and to them, that’s what matters.

“We are all veterans, therefore we are all brothers, so to speak,” Apgar said.

Though the lifestyles are very different, according to Roger Beckley, they are friendly with each other.

They have one goal — one mission — in common.

This mission is to take care of soldiers, their families, and veterans. They and other similar groups are willing to work together toward the fulfillment of that mission.

“Even though we sport different colors on the back of our vests, we’re all brothers,” he said.

The families of members of the Warrior Transition Battalion are the first in line to receive toys from the toy drive. Families of deployed soldiers also have a chance to come get a gift or two from Santa Claus.

It’s important to these veteran groups to be able to help their fellow veterans — who already lead stressful lives — by taking away some of the stress of the holiday season.

Two members of the battalion were on site at American Legion Post 45 when the $1,700 donation was presented.

For Will Burkett, it means the world to be able to give presents to the children of soldiers. Some of them become emotional handing out the gifts, he said.

He said it’s wonderful for them to see how happy the children are, after they’ve received their present.

The mission is as much to help the children of veterans as it is to support the soldiers themselves, because to help the families is to help the soldiers — their fellow veterans.

“Without the kids, there’s no more future,” Shawn Windes said.

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