Leon Everette has been riding motorcycles for more than 50 years, and his joy of riding rolled over into giving back to the community by riding for Tri-Development Center’s Operation North Pole on Saturday.

“I love doing the toy rides,” said Everette, president of the Faith Riders. “It’s great to help others, and it’s just a blessing. We help those who can’t help themselves or are in need.”

This notion of giving back to the community is something many members of the Faith Riders agree with.

“Anything we can do to glorify the Lord and help people, we’ll do,” Doug Cohen said.

This isn’t the first ride that the Faith Riders have done. Other rides include ones for Toys for Tots, veterans, a woman who had a lung transplant and one for cancer, according to Everette.

Although this ride didn’t bring out as many people as they hoped due to the weather, they still managed to collect many items for Operation North Pole, which gives gifts to those who wouldn’t ordinarily receive presents for Christmas.

The idea of doing this was brought to Safety, Prevention and Volunteer Coordinator for Tri-Development Bonnie Fulghum’s attention by one of the center’s consumers.

“John DeNiro Jr., who is a Faith Rider, had a traumatic brain injury and came and persuaded me to do this,” Fulghum said.

This event has brought DeNiro joy and excitement to be able to do this.

“This is what I wanted for Christmas,” he said.

This is the first year that Tri-Development and the Faith Riders have paired up to bring this event about, but according to Fulghum, she hopes it will become an annual event.

“It think it’s very sweet for them to do this on the Saturday before Christmas because they certainly didn’t have to. It’s just amazing,” she said. “I’m grateful for people who want to promote a happy life for the people we serve.”

Fulghum also wanted to thank the major donors – ASCAP, Grace Covenant Church of God, Dr. Charlie and Colleen Timmerman and Aiken Electric Company – and other friends and family of the Tri-Development Center who made Operation North Pole a success.

The Faith Riders are from Faith Riders for Christ Motorcycle Ministry and Faith Riders Fellowship Church. According to Everette, being a member of one doesn’t mean you have to be a member of the other. The ministry originally started with five people in Everette’s living room and has grown quite a bit since then. Services are held on Sundays at 10:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. and Thursdays at 7 p.m. at the church, located at 157 Frontage Road.