The spirit of Christmas was on display Sunday afternoon in Columbia as motorcycle riders gathered to deliver gifts to military veterans who are hospitalized or homeless.

The 22nd annual Vets' Christmas Charity Ride was the culmination of months of work by sponsors Carolina Honda and other supporters of the event to gather donations, and was hosted by the Columbia VA Health Care System (VAHCS).

On Sunday, riders gathered at Carolina Honda and traveled together to the Wm. Jennings Bryan Dorn VA Medical Center to deliver the gifts.

The tradition began in 200, founded by Carolina Honda General Manager and retired U.S. Army Sergeant Major Jim Wertman, Gene Royer of the South Carolina Gold Wing Riders Association and business owner of All American Heating and Air, and Carolina Honda owner Earl Small, Jr.

Gifts were collected this year at drop off points all over the Midlands as well as online, with both financial donations and items accepted. Gifts requested included bathrobes, slippers, warm socks, throw blankets and toiletries.

"The terrible need to provide Christmas to our veterans in the hospital and at the homeless shelters continues to grow each year. We are committed to providing Christmas to these humble deserving people. It is only with the help of the community, the motorcycle riders in our state of South Carolina and the local businesses that we are able to deliver Christmas to them," said Wertman in a statement posted on the Vets' Christmas Charity Ride website. "For most of the veterans at Dorn VA Hospital they have no family, no friends and they get no Christmas. This is the only Christmas they will get, which is why we say IF WE DON”T BRING IT , THEY DON”T GET CHRISTMAS. A simple but very plain truth."

The need for donations continues, and there are many ways to help, including volunteering or simply spreading hope and cheer with a card that can be mailed or dropped off. More information is available at vetride.org.

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