By Benjamin Joe
Inside Voz Cycle City Inc. is a vast array of gear for everyone’s favorite motorcycle enthusiast. To keep it open and running, owners Terry and Carol Vosburgh have to work hard. However, even with their busy schedules, they still find time to give back.
For the past 13 years, the two have been holding an annual Christmas party, the end result of a year of working toward purchasing toys for WNY Heroes.
“It started out as a toy drive and bicycle drive and it’s materialized into a complete gift drive,” Terry Vosburgh said. “We found that it’s great to have toys for the kids, but also the veterans, especially for the ones that are coming back from overseas. They need things. Small appliances, clothing. Pretty much everything and anything. Even like cleaners to clean their apartments. Toothpaste, toothbrushes, everything that someone would need that doesn’t have anything.
“It’s materialized as a drive for the whole entire family.”
Throughout the year, the Vosburghs go out and actively fundraise for WNY Heroes, a nonprofit that has been a “life-sustaining vehicle for veterans and their families” since 2007. While the group has many programs, including packing school supplies into students’ bookbags and providing service dogs to soldiers, it’s the Adopt-A-Hero’s family holiday assistance program that the Vosburghs and a ton of their local friends and customers supplement toward every year.
“Chris (Kreiger), who started up WNY Heroes is a good friend of mine and he’s a customer of mine,” Vosburgh said. “I got talking to Chris the one day, and I’m like, ‘Tell me more about what you’re doing,’ and I asked him, ‘Can I do a gift drive?’ Back then it was a toy drive, but he was very shocked that I wanted to do that for him.
“They have a program called Adopt-A-Family where someone will go out – just like any traditional drive – and buy everything for the entire family, which is great, but I wanted to do something else, so he let me do the gift drive for him. The gift drive supplements the Adopt-A-Family, so if some things that are on the list that they don’t get, hopefully we have it from the gift drive. Plus, they get a lot of families at the last minute who are not in the Adopt-A-Family list, so this way they’ll still have things for them.”
One of the things that attracted Vosburgh was raising money for people right in his own community – people he possibly saw everyday who were hurting but no one knew it.
“A lot of veterans are very proud, and it’s hard to get them to come in and ask for help,” he said. “But for the ones that are willing, it’s great. The nice thing about WNY Heroes is that they take care of our local veterans. Everything stays here. It doesn’t leave the area; it’s all here.
“We started this going in as our own drive and it’s materialized into something bigger. A lot of other businesses are involved now. BankOnBuffalo, Taylor’s Tap and Grill, Stoelting Machine, KI-PO Chevrolet. There’s Amton Auto & Truck, they’re down on Delaware. They’re the first ones who teamed up with us. They’ve been huge supporters of the drive.
“We have 36 drop points this year, this is the most drop stops we’ve ever had. To go from our bike shop to this, it’s pretty unbelievable.”
Vosburgh said, “It takes a lot of hard work, just hammering it out. We make phone calls, we hit the pavement.”
The Christmas party has always been in the shop until last year, when the Vosburghs decided it was just too big. They approached the American Legion on Ward Road and got the hall for free under the condition the liquor sales would go to the hall.
“The Christmas party last year was 260 basket raffles, I don’t know how many cards (gift cards). Large items. … It was huge. At times, it was standing-room-only. There were cars all the way down Ward Road. It was massive. We were a little concerned about running it again this year, but we did and it was phenomenal,” he said.
Of course, there’s always another Christmas season around the corner. 2020’s big party is already scheduled for the first weekend of December at the American Legion.
“Believe it or not, we don’t charge a dime to come it. We don’t charge for food,” Vosburgh said. “I have a band every year, the band didn’t charge us. All you really have to pay for is basket raffle tickets and large-item tickets. That’s it. Santa Claus is there; there’s things for the kids. It’s a good time, and it’s for the community. It was just my customer base and now it’s everybody.”
That’s just the big one. Vosburgh said he starts preparing and raising funds in February.
“I do cruise nights all through the summer,” he said. “They start May through September, the second Wednesday of every month. A live band plays out in the parking lot. There’s food, there’s drinks, there’s 50/50, and all the proceeds from the 50/50 and the food sales go toward the gift drive. We actually start funding this in May.”
Vosburgh said he wasn’t a veteran, but he feels strongly – and so do a lot of people if you look at the numbers supporting him – that veterans deserve the utmost respect.
“They’re out there fighting for us; they’re putting their butts on the line for us,” he said. “I figure it’s the least we can do to give back to them and help them out any way that we can.”