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Sue Bush
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Four-Wheel Fight Against Hunger

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Saturday, November 04, 2006

Bruce Conroy, Marie Harpin, and Michael Chapline at a EC4WD Region D sponsored food drive held Nov. 4.
North Adams - Needy Northern Berkshire children may find more on their plates over the coming weeks thanks to over an estimated 200 pounds of food delivered to the Berkshire Community Action agency's Northern Berkshire office on Nov. 4.

NBCA office coordinator and City Councilor Marie Harpin stood outside at the rear of the 85 Main St. building that hosts the NBCA food pantry. She shivered in the Saturday morning cold but smiled as bags of canned goods and other non-perishable goods piled up.

"Look at these guys, coming up here to do this," she said. "It's unbelievable."

"These guys" included a few gals as well and the entire entourage belong to various four-wheel drive vehicle, off road riding organizations that comprise the East Coast 4-Wheel Drive Association. About 25 members traveled from parts of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, and New York to participate in the food drive. Clubs affiliated with the EC4WDA include Rock Attitude 4-Wheelers, CTJEEP.org, Adirondack jeeps, Hudson Valley 4-Wheelers, Underground Jeepers, UCONN Off Road Club, 4ROC-NE, Eastern 4-Wheelers, TTORA-NE,Long Island Off Road, and Berkshire 4-Wheelers.

The event marked the second consecutive year that EC4WDA members hosted the food drive to benefit the NBCA. In 2005, an off-road ride charged an "entry fee" of non-perishable items. Ride participants donated a $168 check as well as a $26 cash donation.

During the Nov. 4 food drive, Eastern 4-Wheelers member and drive organizer Michael Chapline won a 50/50 raffle and immediately donated his $83 winnings to the NBCA.

Clubs affiliated with the EC4WDA are dedicated to offering thanks to communities that support their off road activities, Chapline said.

Club members believe that verbal thanks are not enough, he said. Food drives, trail clean-ups, and toy drives are among the mechanisms for delivering tangible benefits to communities, he said.

"A lot of us who are involved in organized four-wheeling spend a lot of time up here and we appreciate the local support," he said. "We want to do things for the communities that continue to support us."

Chapline's daughters Ashley,11, and Rachael, 10, volunteered their services as well, and helped Harpin transport bags of groceries to a fifth-floor storage area. The sisters then unloaded the bags from carts.

Two organized rides were planned to follow the food drive. One group planned to tackle Old Florida Road and two groups planned to navigate along County Road in Bennington County, Vermont.

The contributions that come from the off-road riders are a great help to the food pantry, she said. The food pantry serves those who reside in the Northern Berkshire region. Food is given free to those who are income-eligible and who need help feeding their families.

"This is the second year that these people have come together and come up here to help us out," she said. "This has been a great asset to the agency."

Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail at suebush@iberkshires.com or at 802-823-9367.
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