Two United Bikers of Maine motorcycle groups convened at the Community Center on Sunday to help the Jackson Food Pantry raise needed funds for their operations. One group came from the Skowhegan area and the other from Newport, with approximately 75 bikers taking part in the ride.

The event was a win-win-win for both motorcycle groups shopping for their annual toy drive, and also for the food pantry, whose fundraising efforts have been affected by the coronavirus.

Jackson Food Pantry Director Cindy Ludden said because of COVID-19 concerns, their two big annual fundraisers were canceled this year. Proceeds from those events, according to Ludden, make up three-quarters of their operating budget.

Instead, the group has rented out the Jackson Community Center at 260 Village Road, and is asking people to stop by and shop for toys. “We have tons,” Ludden said.

The pantry Christmas store is open on Sundays from 3 to 5 p.m., but Ludden recommends making an appointment to stop in. Large groups can reserve the entire store for shopping events such as the UBM spree that took place Sunday.

Ludden said if a group spends over $500, she will personally give the organizer a Zales jewelry piece valued at $100.

The pantry is now feeding about 560 people from Jackson, Monroe, Brooks, Waldo, Swanville, Thorndike and Troy monthly. For the past few years, Ludden said, the auctions have been their main source of funding.

“If we don’t sell these items,” she said, “we won’t have any money.”

James Pollis, Somerset County UBM director and fellow rider, said every toy purchased will be taken to Augusta where they will be divided equally and distributed to all other counties. What does not fit on their bikes, he said, will go in a car traveling with the group, which will help transport the gifts.

Ludden told the bikers to "play nice" while shopping and that she was overwhelmed by the response to the event that will ultimately make it possible for the pantry to feed its neighbors.

Many thanks to the United Bikers of Maine Somerset County and the United Bikers of Maine Penobscot County riders for taking a trip to the little town of Jackson today, she said. "We are beyond humbled. Ride safe."

To make an appointment to shop and help raise funds for the Jackson Food Pantry, call Cindy Ludden at 322-9469 or Donna Nickerson at 722-3373 or check them out on Facebook at Jackson Food Pantry Info.

The Jackson Food Pantry is a 501(c)(3) organization and all proceeds go to buying food for the pantry.