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A group of Harley-riding combat veterans revved up their efforts to assist their less-fortunate comrades last month, when they collected two truckloads of food items for the residents of the Liberty House, a Manchester shelter for military veterans. Members of the Granite State Chapter of the Nam Knights of America Motorcycle Club stood outside Hannaford supermarket in Pelham, collecting cash and canned goods for the cause. (COURTESY)

Motorcycle club helps out Liberty House, vets in need

PELHAM - Some Harley-riding combat veterans revved up their efforts to assist their less-fortunate comrades last month, when they collected two truckloads of food items for the residents of the Liberty House, a Manchester shelter for military veterans.

On Oct. 26, 27 and 28, members of the Granite State Chapter of the Nam Knights of America Motorcycle Club stood outside Hannaford supermarket in Pelham, collecting cash and canned goods for the cause.

Organization spokesman Bob Coutu said he learned of the shelter's plight earlier last month, when club members gathered in Manchester's Veterans Park for a monthly vigil honoring missing veterans and prisoners-of-war.

The Nam Knights, a club for military veterans and current or retired law enforcement personnel, is dedicated to honoring fallen veterans and assisting financially-strained veterans and their families.

Spread across a dozen different states and two Canadian provinces, the group has a strong presence in the Granite State, where it is four chapters strong.

"Whether its 100 degrees outside or 40 below, we're out there the first Wednesday of every month," said Coutu. "That's where we heard about the Liberty House, which is in desperate need right now."

Located at 75 W. Baker St. in Manchester, the Liberty House provides housing, medical and job assistance for homeless New Hampshire veterans. The shelter relies heavily on donations and grant funding to meet its constantly growing need for services, according to the organization's Web site.

Not wanting his military brothers and sisters to go hungry, Coutu, a Pelham resident, reached out to the staff of his local supermarket, located at 150 Bridge St.

Much to his delight, Store Manager Catie Chapman didn't hesitate when asked to help.

The local Hannaford store offered $2 coupons to every donor for every two food items provided for the cause, with some generous customers rewarded with up to 10 coupons.

Over the span of three days, Coutu and fellow club members collected two full truckloads of canned goods, along with $600 in cash donations.

"We were able to purchase even more food from Hannaford's that way," he said.

Coutu lauded his community's compassion.

"Maybe the people in town were a bit weirded-out at first: here we were standing out there in our motorcycle gear," he said. "But when people talked to us, when they learned what we were all about, they were extremely generous."

"The most crucial aspect about this event is that we successfully worked together as a community to ensure food on the table for our homeless veterans during a critical time of year and holiday season," Coutu added. "As a community, it is essential that we all work together to take care of those less fortunate, especially those who have selflessly chosen to put themselves in detrimental positions for the better of community and country."

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April Guilmet may be reached at AGuilmet@newstote.com.

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