Last updated: July 18. 2013 7:22PM - 557 Views
Ralph B. Davis
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PRESTONSBURG — Members of the Brothers of the Wheel motorcycle club were busy on Black Friday, but instead of shopping, they were trying to catch shoppers on their way to the store, to raise money for children in need.

PRESTONSBURG — As they have each of the past 11 years, members of the Eastern Kentucky Chapter of the Brothers of the Wheel motorcycle club donned Santa hats along with their leather biker jackets and boots, as they stood at the entrance to the Walmart shopping center on Nov. 23, 2012, seeking donations for their annual shoe and toy drive for needy children from Black Friday shoppers.

According to club vice president Ballard Plummer, however, donations were much slower than in past years.

“About every four or five cars, you might get a dollar,” Plummer said. “But every little bit helps. Pennies make dollars.”

Plummer said donations were down significantly this year, by perhaps as much as 75 percent. Part of the problem was a matter of the local economy, he said, with many families hit by coal mining layoffs simply unable to afford to give.

Still, Plummer said those who are familiar with the group’s shoe and toy drive were giving what they could, especially those who might have relied on help in past years. He said in a lot of cases, it was the people who least afford to give who were among the most faithful donors.

“People who are unemployed or whose car doors won’t open, they’re the ones giving the most,” Plummer said.

But another reason, he said, is that many retailers moved their biggest sales to Thanksgiving night, rather than the traditional day after. Plummer, who is a founding member of the local chapter and has been collecting donations every Black Friday for the past 12 years, said there simply was not as much traffic on Black Friday this year from which to draw donations.

“Walmart really killed us this year,” Plummer said. “People were out here shopping last night, and they’re just not here today.”

The Eastern Kentucky Chapter of Brothers of the Wheel is based in Dwale. The club, which has chapters in Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia, can be found online at http://www.botwmc.com.

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