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Bikers on all kinds of machines rumbled out of town Sunday in the annual ride to benefit the island’s biggest gift-giving charity, The Joy of Giving. About 75 riders started and ended at Seven O One Bistro & Lounge.

The ride out and back to the island is organized by Autocraft owner Ernie Bordon, who linked with the charity about 15 years ago. Joy of Giving president and founder Nicki Davis’ father had needed some work done at a body shop.

“He used to put money aside from his business, and then decided he would do more,” Davis said. “He’s been one of the stalwarts since he came aboard.”

Davis founded the Joy of Giving all of 27 years ago.

It’s a pre-Christmas shopping spree that enables parents of lesser-privileged families or down-on-their-luck people to buy gifts for the kids.

The charity started out as modestly as the families it now serves, when in 1988 Davis started with just one needy family whose lives she decided to brighten by getting a wish list from a single mom and enabling Santa to deliver.

She raised the money by convincing Coldwell Banker (Realty) colleagues to forgo their Secret Santa tradition, and instead pool the money for her initiative.

Since then, thousands of area children would not have been able to return to school a few weeks later and tell their classmates: “Santa came to my house too.”

It’s Davis’ favorite quote line associated with the charity, which this year aims at $105,000 to take care of 1,000 children.

Bicycles and toys are high on the list of parents, but Davis points out that many of them opt for clothing and just a new pair of shoes for their kids as well.

This year, the shopping spree – with zero buyers’ remorse – happens Dec. 12 at WalMart near Marco Island. Families nominated by counselors from schools in Marco Island, North Naples, Golden Gate and East Naples.

Other significant sponsors are the Island Country Club (donating the lion’s share of cash), Noontime Rotary Club, Walker’s Marine and banker Tom Wagor, now with First Florida Integrity Bank. In addition, Davis and her right-hand person, Misty Sayah, rely on the generosity of Marco Islanders to meet the ever-increasing financial goal.

Want to help?

What: The Joy of Giving

Goal: Raise $105,000 to provide vouchers for parents to buy presents for their children

How to donate: Go to jogchildren.org

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