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story.lead_photo.caption American Legion Rider's Unit 5 Riders Cookbook

This article is free to all readers because it includes information important to public safety and health in our community.

The American Legion Post 5 in Jefferson City will hold two first-time fundraising efforts to continue bringing in support during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The local American Legion Riders group will release its first ever American Legion Rider's Unit 5 Riders Cookbook on Dec. 3.

"Thanks to the help of our sponsors, the 80-page cookbook is just $10, and it's great to know that proceeds from the cookbook sales will go to help support veterans and their families," said Dan Levasseur, director of the local American Legion Riders. "We can't hold funds, we have to spend them; so we do a lot of work with the VA and veterans in nursing homes."

The American Legion Riders are military veterans along with children of veterans as well as auxiliary members who come together "for the pleasure of each other's company and to ride free," according to information on the local group's Facebook page.

In the past, the group has held events like swap meets and tournaments to raise funds, but with the ongoing pandemic, they knew those events couldn't happen safely.

"The question was how to raise funds in a pandemic, and the cookbook was the idea," Levasseur said. "Having the sponsors put in ads helps offset the printing costs, so that will help increase revenues."

Levasseur said, just by word of mouth, "people's interest took off like wildfire."

"I had intended to do just 100, but I pre-sold those so now it's up to 200," he said. "We have sections for appetizers, main dishes, salads, desserts and beverages. All the riders submitted recipes. They have motorcycle themes like 'legion rider stew' and 'gear banging banana bread.'"

To order a cookbook, visit the American Legion Post 5's Facebook page for more details.

The post's second upcoming fundraiser is the American Legion Riders' first ever Christmas Teddy Bear Run, scheduled Dec. 5.

The riders are teaming with the local 40&8 Society for this event. The society was an arm of the American Legion but became an independent and separately incorporated veterans' organization promoting the welfare of veterans and their families.

Levasseur said the public is welcome to visit the old Sears parking lot at Capital Mall in Jefferson City at 10:30 a.m. Dec. 5, when riders will gather, and at 11 a.m., it's "kickstands-up" as the riders will travel to the American Legion post on Tanner Bridge Road and arrive at 12:15 p.m.

"The cost to ride is one teddy bear, and for that you get to enjoy our legion chili and all the fixings after the ride," he said.

This event will allow the riders and the 40&8 to continue to provide Christmas presents to children with special needs, Levasseur said.

"For several years, we've brought the kids to the legion, providing them a meal, let them talk to Santa and bring in a band to play Christmas music," Levasseur said. "With COVID and knowing some of the kids have suppressed immune systems, we knew we couldn't do that this year."

They're looking for teddy bears of 8-12 inches in size and dragon or dinosaur toys of 3-4 inches in size. They plan to give the gifts to the children Dec. 8.

"Our goal is 200 teddy bears," Levasseur said. "If people can't make it to the ride on Dec. 5, people can still drop off a teddy bear at the legion. We ask that they be new and that they leave it in a plastic bag."

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