TOWNSEND -- The Townsend Police Department was the recipient of $6,000 raised this year by the fifth annual Give Back Ride, held on May 18.
Police Chief Erving Marshall said the money would go toward the department's youth and senior programs, including the annual senior picnic and youth bicycle safety program. It may also be used to fund the DARE drug awareness programs at the schools, which no longer receive funding.
"It's a very generous thing to do. With the way funding is with the budget, we appreciate any help we can get," Marshall said.
The Give Back Ride, organized by Harbor Auto Body owner Joe Shank and his son-in-law Aaron Williams, has raised $17,800 for various local groups since it began in 2010. That money has gone toward Townsend Fire-EMS, Mommies Mobile Meals, Townsend Ecumenical Outreach and the Townsend Recreational Activity Council.
"It just started out as a simple thank you," Williams said. "We started out with 50 bikes the first year, and every year we choose a new recipient. It can be any business, group or organization that's doing good for the community."
This year, more than 100 motorcycles made the 90-mile trip from Townsend through Southern New Hampshire and back. Funds were raised with the assistance of local businesses that made donations, including items that were raffled off.
"We wouldn't get as far as we have if it weren't for the support of the community businesses, as well as those outside of the community, that support us every year," Shank said.
He also thanked the police and fire departments for helping to coordinate the event.
"Without their help every year we wouldn't be able to do it," he said.
Shank said he hopes to see the program continue to grow, with more participants and more donations brought in each year.
"It's a great thing to do and every year it gets bigger and better. Hopefully, next year it'll be even bigger," Shank said.
Williams said he is planning to continue organizing the event in future years, providing new Townsend organizations with funding.
"As long as people keep showing up, we'll keep doing it," he said.