When the Bad Pennies roll into town it usually doesn't involve ear to ear grins from inside a party bus to the tunes of 90s county hit "Sold," but that's exactly what happened on Sunday when members of the motorcycle club made their way around the city delivering Thanksgiving meals to 24 families — most of whom wouldn't otherwise have a holiday meal. What started out as a way to honor a fallen brother has transformed into an annual holiday tradition that has shifted how many community members view the leather clad motorcycle enthusiasts.

The South Heart motorcycle group teamed up with United Way of Dickinson to provide Thanksgiving meals this weekend. On Saturday, the biker club rolled into the Cash Wise Foods parking lot and quickly filled up their grocery carts with the Thanksgiving necessities from turkeys, stuffing, buns, pumpkin pie and even a box of corn dogs. Then on Sunday, the Bad Pennies rode along in a party bus and delivered the meals to 25 different households.

Driving down the aisle with a grocery cart, a member from the Bad Pennies, a motorcycle group based in South Heart, shops for Thanksgiving meals at Cash Wise Foods Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021, that he and his fellow brother distributed throughout the Dickinson community the following day to 25 families who are in need. (Jackie Jahfetson / The Dickinson Press)
Driving down the aisle with a grocery cart, a member from the Bad Pennies, a motorcycle group based in South Heart, shops for Thanksgiving meals at Cash Wise Foods Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021, that he and his fellow brother distributed throughout the Dickinson community the following day to 25 families who are in need. (Jackie Jahfetson / The Dickinson Press)
Members of the Bad Pennies, a motorcycle group based in South Heart, shop for Thanksgiving meals at Cash Wise Foods Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021, to give out to 25 families in the Dickinson area who are in need. (Jackie Jahfetson / The Dickinson Press)
Members of the Bad Pennies, a motorcycle group based in South Heart, shop for Thanksgiving meals at Cash Wise Foods Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021, to give out to 25 families in the Dickinson area who are in need. (Jackie Jahfetson / The Dickinson Press)

Bad Pennies Secretary Dan Hauptmann, also known as “White Dan,” noted that this a time of giving.

“It’s just important to give back — plain and simple. You can’t take all of your life by any means. It’s (a) blessing in giving. It’s not receiving the gift, the blessing is giving the gift,” Hauptmann remarked Sunday afternoon while delivering meals. “Today, we are some blessed guys.”

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For Hauptmann and his motorcycle brothers, it’s important that no family goes hungry during the holidays.

“Hopefully, it means that, ‘we’re gonna have something to eat this Thanksgiving’ — that’s the main thing. We just want to know that they’re not gonna be able to eat. So I think it means that they’re gonna have a good meal, full tummies and hopefully have some leftovers for a few days to eat. So that’s what we’re going for,” he added.

One Thanksgiving meal was given to Cindy Harrington, of Dickinson, who was overcome with emotion as the group of bikers gathered in her living room with a stuffed box of goodies.

“It means so much. It really helps out a lot through the year from what they do and everything,” she said, wiping a tear away from her eye. Looking toward the circle of motorcycle brothers standing beside her, she said, “If it wasn’t for you guys, we wouldn’t have this.You guys mean so much to me. The love, the joy that you guys always bring, it really touches me and I just really appreciate it — every one of ya.”

Jen Gonser, of United Way, chimed in, saying to Cindy how she received tires from the Bad Pennies in 2020.

“And they’re still on guys,” Cindy said, as the room soared with laughter. “... I’d be so lost without you guys.”

Bad Pennies Vice President Mike Sticka, right, hauls a box filled with Thanksgiving necessities into a trailer parked outside Cash Wise Foods Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021, as he and his fellow motorcycle brothers prepare to deliver 25 meals to families in the Dickinson area. (Jackie Jahfetson / The Dickinson Press)
Bad Pennies Vice President Mike Sticka, right, hauls a box filled with Thanksgiving necessities into a trailer parked outside Cash Wise Foods Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021, as he and his fellow motorcycle brothers prepare to deliver 25 meals to families in the Dickinson area. (Jackie Jahfetson / The Dickinson Press)

Working with United Way has been rewarding for the Bad Pennies, Hauptmann said, adding that the organization helps in choosing the families for the free Thanksgiving meals.

“What we do is we pretty much leave that up to United Way. They have a program that people come forward and say, ‘We need help.’ And they do the background checking for us and what not, and come to us with a number of people they have,” he said, adding, that United Way verifies with the Bad Pennies how many meal recipients they can provide for. “... But if somebody comes to us and says, ‘Hey, we’re in need,’ we’ll help you out. We’ll do what we can. We’ll help the community out. It doesn’t necessarily have to go through United Way; (they can) come to a club member and say, ‘Hey, we’re really in dire straits and we could use some help.’ We’ll see what we can do. We just want to help. We’re a bunch of bikers that enjoy having fun and riding our bikes and doing good things in the community and it’s a great thing to be able to do. We’re thankful we get to do it.”

In 2019, the Bad Pennies began this Thanksgiving tradition with United Way. But community outreach has always been something on the list for the motorcycle club, Hauptmann said.

“We lost a brother to suicide, and this is what he had always kind of envisioned was starting a bike club and giving back. And so, we took it and ran with it in his memory of doing good things because he was a good guy,” he said.

At first, the motorcycle club provided four meals to families in need to the community. In 2019, that receiving list increased to 12, and more than doubled again this year.

“It feels absolutely wonderful,” Hauptmann said. “It’s too bad that there is such a need for it, but I’m so grateful our bike club is able to help out. It’s a great feeling to be able to give back. The communities have been so good to us, and enabling us to give back to people in need. It’s a great thing — absolutely a great thing.”

With the amount of community support the Bad Pennies have received with this Thanksgiving gesture, Hauptmann said it’s bound to live on.

“We’re hoping to keep on continuing growing and to be able to help everybody that needs it if there’s a need,” Hauptmann said, adding, “We’ve had some great sponsors. Ion Field Services, again, has just been wonderful to us throughout the years in helping out and various other people. Tooz Construction’s been nice to us and (has) really taken care of us. We just have some really good outpouring (of support); local people in the community have done great.”

The Bad Pennies is also conducting a food drive, with carts stationed at local grocery stores throughout Stark County. Hauptmann said the goal with that is to distribute all donated goods to local and area food pantries.

“We’re trying to do as much (as we can). We’re trying to do Dickinson and southwest North Dakota because some of the small outreach (places) like Beach is a town that’s out in the middle of nowhere and they’ve got a need out there,” he added.

To learn more about the Bad Pennies and other community outreach events that they do, visit the Bad Pennies R.C. Facebook page.