July 14. Bastille Day. Parades. Fireworks. La Marseillaise.
Locally, July 14 is Christmas in July — complete with Santa and presents — thanks to the East Norriton-based Hogs and Honeys motorcycle group and its non-profit Hogs and Honeys A Foundation for Kids. Since 2016, the organization’s members have ignored mid-summer’s sultry heat to join riders from law enforcement’s Montgomery County Chapter of the Centurions and the big guy in red to deliver toys and a financial assist to the kids at Silver Springs-Martin Luther School in Plymouth Meeting and Variety-the Children’s Charity of the Delaware Valley in Worcester.
Out of season? Yes. Does that matter to the recipients? Nope…even when Santa has to maneuver his sleigh through heavy rains like the ones that soaked him and fellow philanthropists last year.
“Santa (aka Plymouth Fire Company No. 1 firefighter Steve Karwoski) was a trooper and rode in the sleigh from Deon Square to Silver Springs, then — despite the torrential downpours — continued his journey to Variety Club in the sleigh,” says Hogs and Honeys Spokesman Anna Simpson. “It rained so bad that day that everyone who made it to the picnic came back with their clothes five shades darker and water in their boots.”
Weather woes aside, the men and women of Hogs and Honeys — all ages, all walks of life, non-bikers welcome — wouldn’t have it any other way.
According to its founding statement, “Hogs and Honeys A Foundation for Kids is dedicated to helping the disadvantaged and abused children of Montgomery County. One in 10 children are abused before their 18th birthday, and over 12,500 children are designated as ‘in poverty’ in Montgomery County.”
SSMLS and Variety are among several youth-focused groups and families the foundation has helped over the past 15 years or so.
SSMLS offers an approved private school, residential treatment and community-based programs that include foster family care and outpatient mental health services and has been serving abused and otherwise traumatized children since it was founded as a Philadelphia orphanage 160 years ago.
Variety provides “social, educational and vocational programs” designed to “enrich the lives of children and young adults with intellectual disabilities.”
Simpson says the benefits go both ways.
“We all have our own stories as to why the organization matters so much to us and why we got involved in the first place,” she continues. “However, we stay involved and continue this event because there is nothing more magical than seeing a child’s face light up as they watch toy after toy get delivered. Just knowing that our efforts — no matter how big or small — could potentially change a child’s life is the biggest reason we continue to volunteer.”
Registration for this year’s “Christmas in July Toy Run” ($25 for riders; $10 for passengers…earmarked for Variety) is scheduled for 8 a.m. at Hogs and Honeys headquarters in East Norriton’s Deon Square, 2014 Arch Road, Suite 2062. Each rider and passenger should bring an unwrapped “non-violent” toy for the SSMLS students.
Kick stands will go up at 10 a.m. sharp — with or without Mother Nature’s blessing — and following their visit to the SSMLS campus at 512 W. Township Line Road, the bikers will head to the Variety complex at 2950 Potshop Road and conclude the day with a picnic.
“Yes, last year, we got rained on, but we still had a great turnout, and everyone who joins us loves to see the joy of the children as they watch the toys get unloaded,” Simpson says. “The bikers also enjoy spending some time with the kids as they check out the bikes.
“We are excited to support both these organizations again this year. We are the recent recipients of Variety Club’s Ace of Variety Award, given to a person or organization who has been an exemplary…supportive partner, and we were also recognized at (SSMLS’s) 160th anniversary celebration for our partnership and support…over the years.”
Hogs and Honeys’ community outreach goes back to an informal Valentine’s Day party that raised some $1,000 for Montgomery County’s Children’s Aid Society. The get-together became an annual event, extended its charitable arm to this area’s Mission Kids advocacy organization and eventually morphed into today’s official 501c3 foundation.
Hogs and Honeys’ hugely popular Spring Fling attracts 1,000-plus attendees, and proceeds from the annual bash also help support the foundation’s grant and scholarship program for families in need of “a good or service.” As part of the latter, Hogs and Honeys’ upcoming “Christmas in July Toy Run” will include the presentation of a special needs bike to “a young girl in Montgomery County.”
Additional information about Hogs and Honeys and Hogs or Honeys A Foundation for Kids (including participation in July 14’s “Christmas in July Toy Run”) is available at www.hogsnhoneys.org.