Lee's Summit Journal

‘A really good, fun way to raise money.’ Motorcycle ride helps LS Social Services

Robert Buchanan was prepared to wear a tutu if donations hit $2,000. Eddie Pease, a sponsor of the ride, and participant Jeff Hicks waited with Saturday morning for the start of the ride.
Robert Buchanan was prepared to wear a tutu if donations hit $2,000. Eddie Pease, a sponsor of the ride, and participant Jeff Hicks waited with Saturday morning for the start of the ride. Special to The Journal

Running a food pantry and helping with utility bills are just a couple of the things Lee’s Summit Social Services does. It’s that kind of work that made Robert Buchanan want to raise money to help.

“Anything someone in need could possibly think of needing as a necessity, they will try to come up with,” Buchanan said.

Buchanan’s Ride for Lee’s Summit, a charity motorcycle ride held Aug. 31, was his way of helping the agency make a dent in the extra $30,000 it needs to raise above its expected donations to keep offering its services at the current level.

“I’m an avid motorcycle rider myself. It seemed like a really good, fun way to raise money,” he said.

The ride itself didn’t attract many people — few motorcyclists participated — but it did raise $390 through a GoFundMe page, as well as $100 that the agency received in direct donations. Fringe Beerworks, a sponsor of the ride, donated $59 from that day’s proceeds.

The riders started at the Masonic Lodge on 291 Highway and rode to Lexington and back via Pleasant Hill and Oak Grove.

“It’s never a bad day to ride a motorcycle,” said participant Jeff Hicks. “If you’ve got the time to kill, 100 miles is pretty average (for a ride).”

Matt Sanning, executive director at Lee’s Summit Social Services, said donations dwindle in the summer months when people are out of town. He said they try not to constantly ask for donations and save those requests for when they are really hurting for funds and supplies.

“We also lose a bit of traction when you have a constant ask. Communities tend to not to respond as favorably as if you ask once or twice a year,” Sanning said.

When Buchanan came to him with the idea for the motorcycle ride, “I thought it was awesome. We had been thinking about this and trying to have a fundraiser that we could get some outside parties involved in, maybe a different demographic or folks with different hobbies,” he said.

“I’m thrilled. If I rode a motorcycle, I’d be right there with him.”

Different circumstances can have an impact on the level of donations the group gets and supplies it needs to distribute from Lee’s Summit Social Services. The government shutdown was one; harsher winter or summer weather is another when it comes to utility assistance.

“Every time there’s a national disaster, or an international issue… Local nonprofits get hit by that (because) we’re all pulling from the same pot of money,” Sanning said.

Based on previous years, he expects the agency to get $50,000 in donations by the end of the year, but it will need $30,000 more to stay out of the red when they balance the books in December.

“By bringing awareness and having more individuals donate, we can chip away at that $30,000,” said Sanning of the agency, which serves about 3,500 people this year. “If we have a mild winter, then that’s favorable for us to get back to even. This summer has been rough from a heat standpoint. Last winter was pretty rough. If we have another winter like that, it’s going to be very challenging financially.”

Although there are some emergency cash reserves, Sanning said they try not to use them unless absolutely necessary. Sanning said that he would cut back on his office’s air conditioning or heating before he would cut back on any services to clients.