Bomber Girls Ladies Riding Club members are hard-core — when it comes to supporting soldiers. These civic-minded bikers raise funds to send care packages to deployed soldiers year-round.
“I have been friends with members and a supporter of the Bomber Girls Ladies Riding Club since its inception in 2007,” Bomber Girls Vice President Jill Ward said. “My husband is a Vietnam vet and has expressed, many times, how poorly our troops were treated when returning from their service overseas.”
Ward said her husband and fellow Vietnam veterans told her they did not want today’s troops to experience the same sort of maltreatment. This led Ward to combine her love of motorcycling with her dedication for supporting soldiers and their families.
“Putting my love for motorcycling along with my love for supporting our soldiers and organizing good causes, the Bomber Girls LRC just became a good fit,” she said. “I was invited to try them out, and it proved to be a great thing to be a part of. Not only do the Bomber Girls have monthly fundraisers to fill and ship care packages to deployed soldiers, we also volunteer through the Red Cross for Services to Armed Forces and get the opportunity to greet and send off troops from Hunter Army Airfield. We meet not only 3rd Infantry Division soldiers, but also National Guard, Marines and others flying in, out or through Hunter. We also get involved with Wreaths for Warriors Walk, and have adopted four soldiers’ trees along the walk, whose families are or appear to be too far to attend the annual wreath laying, Memorial Day or other times.”
W4WW president Tony Justi appreciates the organization’s hard work.
“It’s wonderful having groups like the Bomber Girls LRC support us,” Justi said. He said the club also gets in touch with families of the fallen “to let them know that their soldier will be remembered on special occasions like their birthday and holidays.”
The Bomber Girls manage to balance their support for the troops with their own families and jobs, Ward said.
“It gets tough at times — the balancing act — but when we get a thank-you card or a hug from a returning soldier it makes our ‘second’ job all worth it,” she added.
Recently, club members helped raise money for two Hinesville families displaced by a house fire earlier this month. The head of one family was deployed to Afghanistan when the fire occurred.
A Bomber Girls member found out about the fire through a posting on Facebook and notified other club members.
“When I learned of this family, burglarized and burned out just before Christmas, seven children and a deployed father, we just had to do something,” club member Shanon Clay had said.
The Bomber Girls gathered for “Bike Night” in Savannah and collected $400 in a drawing to benefit the families. The club also hosted a birthday party for two of the children.
Currently, the group is conducting an online photo contest titled “Love My Soldier.” The soldier in the winning photograph will be eligible for the 2012 Bomber Girls Veteran of the Year title and will grace the club’s calendar. Judging will be on the photo alone, but should include a description of 25 words or less about how the photo depicts the love the sender has for their soldier, Ward said.
There is a grand prize of $500. The entry fee is $10. Grainger Honda and Fair Haven Funeral Home are sponsoring the event. The contest will begin Jan. 1 and entries will be accepted through Feb. 9. Awards will be presented Feb. 12.
In addition to the photo contest, the Bomber Girls will have a cookie drive before their Abate Frosty Balls Run begins Jan. 30, at 77 West Fairmont Ave. in Savannah. Registration starts at 9 a.m. Anyone interested in participating should bring a dozen or more cookies and help sort and package them for shipping, Ward suggests.
“At the end of January, we send home-baked cookies to our soldiers in time for Valentine’s Day,” she explained. “We send a hygiene and snack package several months after that, summertime packages, movie mailings in the fall and Christmas decorations and thank-you notes in early winter. We want the soldiers to receive necessary things like soap, socks and shampoo, but we also want to help break the depressing monotony of war and being away from home — so we send fun items like whoopee cushions, books, wading pools and Christmas trees. Anything to let each soldier know there is someone at home thinking about
Ward said the club holds fundraisers to help pay for the items sent and the mass mailing costs, which can be as much as $1,650 per large scale mailing.
“We want all of our soldiers to know we all thank them for their sacrifices and for our freedom,” Ward said.
For more information, call 912-247-8878 or go to www.bombergirlslrc.com.
Staff writer Seraine Page contributed to this story.