Flagler County, FL (November 3, 2021) ‘Protect and Serve’ is a motto that law enforcement carries as a lifelong commitment, even after retirement, and one that’s universal for first responders as a profession. Continuing to serve the community, retired firefighters from the Knights of the Inferno Motorcycle Club and members of the law enforcement motorcycle club The Punishers, Florida Chapter have made the rounds this week, serving the Flagler County community through their charitable efforts.
Proceeds from the annual 9/11 Memorial Ride – a free event that draws support from sponsors and t-shirt sales, netted $3,700 this year, and members of both organizations were happy to divvy up the dollars in support of local first responders.
Starting on Monday with the Palm Coast Volunteer Fire Department and Wednesday’s gifts to the Flagler County Fire Rescue and the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office Shop with a Cop program through the Flagler Sheriff’s Children’s Charities, it was reminder to first responders still serving, that those who came before them care.
“Overall we raised $3,700 and split it up. Flagler County Fire Rescue got $1,000, Palm Coast Volunteer Department got $500, Vietnam Veterans got $200,” said Knights of the Inferno Motorcycle Club member Joe Vece.
“9/11 means a lot to us. A lot of us are retired, some are still active fire fighters, a lot of the guys were from New York and it means a lot to us. (This year) we had a very big turnout, and we have good sponsors and partners that help us out with it, Politis & Matovina, Monster Motorcycles, and Flagler County Government Services.
Supporting local children is just as important to Vece who made donating to children’s programs in the area a personal priority before the Knights of the Inferno voted to include it as one of their charitable commitments annually.
“There are a lot of kids in Flagler County that don’t have nothing, and I mean nothing,” said Vece. “They got the clothes on their back.”
This year also marks the launch of the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office ‘Shop with a Cop’ program under the Flagler Sheriff’s Children’s Charities banner. Hosted by a private charitable organization for more than a decade in years past, FSCO leadership created the 501c3 modeled after other law enforcement agencies to directly support two programs according to Flagler Sheriff Rick Staly.
“Most sheriff’s offices, they have their own charitable arm. I just thought it was time because everybody thought it was our program, we supported it, but it wasn’t ours. (Flagler Sheriff’s Children’s Charities) was created almost two years ago but this is the first year that we’ve done an event. We raise money throughout the year – the first six months goes to the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches and then the second six months of the year supports Shop with a Cop,” shared Staly.
The programs offer agency employees an opportunity to give back to the community by voluntarily donating $10 each pay period. Seeing the faces of local children as they shop during the holiday season has become a point of pride for members of the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office, who start the evening at Chiumento Law with free holiday festivities for the families.
Facing a challenging year with inflation and the potential for limited inventory supplies on retailer’s shelves, Staly says they are prepared to help 150 children this holiday season but can accommodate 200 if there is that much need in the community.
It’s donations like the $2,000 from the September 11th motorcycle ride that are helping make a direct impact in Flagler County.
“Between community supporters and the Sheriff’s Office employees we’ll have close to $30,000 for kids,” said Staly, who has formed a partnership with the Palm Coast Wal-Mart this year to help maximize the dollars kids have to spend.
“Wal-Mart welcomed us with open arms and we’re going to go there.”
With family in law enforcement, Nelson Santos, a member of The Punishers Motorcycle Club appreciates the opportunity to be part of an organization that helps support the community whether it’s providing assistance for the 9/11 Memorial Ride each year or for the ‘Shop with a Cop’ program.
“It’s important because it’s going to help families in need,” said Santos. “It feels wonderful. You get goosebumps to see this kind of stuff happen. It’s a wonderful gesture and amazing when we can help with the community.”
Families are encouraged to nominate a child for ‘Shop with a Cop’ by visiting https://www.facebook.com/fcsoshopwithacop/ or email firstname.lastname@example.org.