Visiting motorcycle group donates food to harvest share

motorcycle group
A web-based 1300 Tourer motorcycle group, which boasts 5,000 members worldwide, held its annual reunion in Prairie du Chien last week. As a way to leave their mark on the community, they took time out from riding to shop at Piggly Wiggly and then deliver dozens of bags of non-perishable food items to the Cornerstone Foursquare Church’s harvest share program. The food pantry serves an average of 68 area families per month. (Photo by Audrey Posten)

By Audrey Posten

When Will Reece bought a Yamaha 1300 Tourer motorcycle six years ago, he did not know much about it. So, he did what a lot of other people do when they need answers—he took to the Internet, creating a website where other people could discuss that type of motorcycle.

Now, the web-based 1300 Tourer motorcycle group boasts 5,000 members worldwide. In order to connect with some of those far-reaching members, the group plans a reunion every summer, and meets at a voted-upon destination. Past meet and greets have taken place in Arkansas, Tennessee, Colorado, New York and, last year, Yellowstone National Park. This year, following a suggestion from some of its Iowa members, the group voted to meet in Prairie du Chien.

A group of 30 to 35 members from all across the country, and even the world, with some coming from England and Canada, spent June 25 through 27, in the Prairie du Chien area, sneaking in rides between the rain showers. However, the gathering was not just one big party; it also gave the group a chance to give back to the community—something they try to do at each reunion.

Earlier in the month, one of the group’s representatives, contacted the Cornerstone Foursquare Church, located just outside Prairie du Chien, wondering if the group could donate groceries to the church’s harvest share program. Karen Snitker, the program coordinator, welcomed their overtures.

Last Tuesday morning, dodging rainy weather, the group bought and delivered dozens of bags of non-perishable food to the church.

“This means a lot to me to leave our mark on the community,” said Reece, the group’s leader. “The group isn’t a bunch of ruffians. We’re good people.”

Snitker spent the morning snapping photos and distributing hugs. Her face shone with a perpetual smile. Afterward, touched by the group’s generosity, she was overcome with emotion. After all, she has seen firsthand the good harvest share does for those in need.

The church established its first food sharing program in the mid-1990s, when the church was located in the then-Commerce Court Mall, after some members formed a partnership with Second Harvest Foodbank.

Snitker started coordinating the current harvest share program in 2000, after Cornerstone Foursquare moved to its current location at 38398 Highway 18 in 1999, and into a church building equipped with a food storage room and plenty of space for tables and people. The premise, or “heartbeat,” as Snitker likes to call it, of the program has always been to provide an opportunity for people in the region to receive supplemental food items that add to what they buy for themselves and/or receive through other services.

Already working a full-time job and finishing her college education, Snitker scheduled the program for the third Tuesday of every month, from 4:30 to 6 p.m., a time she knew she could be there.

“The first time the doors opened, there were 12 families,” reflected Snitker.

Roughly 13 years later, harvest share still distributes food at that time, but to a considerably greater number of recipients.

Since July 1, 2012, Snitker said the program has served an average of 68 families each month–nearly 200 people. Participants come from all over the region, everywhere from Elkader to Fennimore to Boscobel.

Snitker said the program was serving about 75 households each month, but that number dropped in February, most likely, she said, due to the strengthening economy.

“The numbers going down speaks of good news,” Snitker said. “This is something where you don’t want the numbers to go up.”

No matter the number, though, she said the mission is still the same: “We just hope they’ve experienced love and encountered people who accept them.”

“A lot of people who first come here are hopeless,” said Mel Wild, Cornerstone Foursquare’s senior pastor. “It’s about giving them love and the knowledge that someone cares about them.”

Snitker said it is important to form individual relationships and let people know  how valuable they are.

“If we impact just one family,” Snitker said, choking up.

The “we” refers to the team of volunteers that makes harvest share possible. Snitker said it takes at least 35 people—including the volunteers who help distribute food, the youth who bag the groceries, as well as the people who place the food order with Second Harvest and meet the truck—to run the program efficiently.

While the church budgets to buy food for the program, Wild and Snitker said a lot of the food is donated, including much of the meat. One farm family donates 100 pounds of ground beef and venison every year.

Even though the volunteers and donations help to keep the program running, Wild said Snitker has made it a well-oiled machine.

Pointing at her, he said, “The heart and soul is right there.”

However, Snitker balked at the attention. “This is not about me,” she insisted. “It’s never been about me. We’re a team, and I just have the honor of overseeing it.”

Those with questions about the harvest share program can contact Cornerstone Foursquare Church at 326-4875.

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