-- Editor's Note: This month the Herald is featuring a series of stories on the Holiday Wish Lists of Mid-Columbia nonprofits and how you can help.
Teddy bears and coloring books aren't what you would expect to be atop a Christmas wish list for a group of bikers with names like "Torch," "Two Guns" and "Booger."
Then again, the Tri-City chapter of Bikers Against Child Abuse isn't your average motorcycle gang.
The international nonprofit helps children who are victims of abuse by guiding them through the court process and serving as mentors.
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"Our focus is to help empower children not to be fearful in the world they live in," said Lorena "Gearhead" Swift. "If they pick up the phone at 3 a.m. and they are afraid, there is going to be a biker on their doorstep."
This holiday season, local BACA members are asking the community for toys, books and clothes to give to the kids they help. The group has faced a decrease in donations in the past year, Swift said.
Many of the kids are in the foster care system or don't have a stable living situation, Swift said. The nonprofit wants to surprise some of them this year with Christmas gifts.
"Christmastime is the toughest for our kids," she said. "Some of these kids have next to nothing and something as simple as a coloring book can brighten their day."
BACA helps youth who are victims of all types of abuse, including sexual abuse, Swift said. Each child is assigned two bikers. The group throws birthday parties for the kids or organizes rides to show support.
Members also go to court with their kids and walk them to the witness stand, Swift said. The group works with local and state authorities to get cases already in the justice system referred to them.
Having a tough-looking, Harley-riding biker by a kid's side can give them back the feeling of power, Swift said.
"I have seen kids go from totally withdrawn, non-social to being able to mainstream in school," she said.
The local BACA chapter -- which doesn't reveal how many members it has or how many kids it serves -- has been in the Tri-Cities since 2010. There are five chapters in Washington.
Many citizens became aware of the group in 2012, when bikers flooded the streets near Sacajawea Elementary School in Richland after a high-risk sex offender moved in nearby.
The group's presence was so heavy, the offender moved out.
Anything that can help comfort a child or just give them something to unwrap at Christmastime would be greatly appreciated, Swift said.
To make donations visit BACA's website at www.washington.bacaworld.org or call 942-1418 for drop-off locations.
-- Tyler Richardson: 582-1556; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @Ty_richardson