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December is usually a slow time for the motorcycle business in Northwest Indiana.

Bikers are less likely to hit the open road when that means braving the often-blistering cold and bone-chilling wind whipping off Lake Michigan.

But despite the seasonal lull, the Region’s two biggest Harley Davidson dealerships aren’t slowing down their efforts to give back to the community.

Calumet Harley-Davidson in Munster signed on to the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana’s Peanut Butter Challenge.

“Our goal was to collect 115 jars of the most requested, but least donated, item by constituents of the food bank,” Calumet Harley-Davidson owner Chuck Kreisl said.

“You guessed it — it’s peanut butter, and it’s a huge line item for the Food Bank to the tune of $30,000.”

After learning the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana served clients in Porter County too, Calumet Harley-Davidson decided to challenge rival franchise Harley-Davidson of Valparaiso to a friendly competition for a good cause.

“Ginger Misch, marketing maven and event coordinator from Valpo Harley-Davidson gladly accepted the challenge, and the gauntlet has been thrown down,” Kreisl said.

“They began advertising and promoting to their client base and before you know it, people responded enthusiastically and they’ve collected over 350 Jars of PB totaling nearly 450 pounds. Calumet H-D has collected nearly 225 jars of PB, totaling over 350 pounds.”

The contest that benefits the neediest in Northwest Indiana runs through Dec. 20.

“The winner gets bragging rights along with some other nondescript, random trophy that we’ll scrounge up from the dustbin,” Kreisl said.

“This is a great ‘feel good’ story about two well-known, locally active business competitors putting on the boxing gloves, jousting and duking it out, requesting and incentivizing their respective client bases for support and doing some real good charity work for the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana ...

"I think that we may be able to collect 1,000 jars totaling 1,300 to 1,500 pounds of great-tasting, belly-filling, nourishing peanut butter for folks in need in the two counties.”

Both dealerships also have been trying to accommodate people with peanut allergies by accepting alternatives made with other nuts, sunflower seeds, and even golden peas.

Tee Bettelyoun, with Harley-Davidson of Valparaiso, said it’s been a lively, healthy competition that helps those who may do without.

“It’s just been something fun during the slower months when fewer people are out riding,” she said.

Calumet Harley-Davidson Parts Manager Dave "Super Dave" De Witt said the challenge has engaged customers, who have brought in everything from a jar of peanut butter to a case or two.

“We’re also trying to raise more awareness that peanut butter is the most requested but least donated item at food pantries,” he said.

“It might be because you can sometimes buy three or four cans of corn for a dollar while peanut butter runs three to four dollars a jar.”

The dealerships are accepting any brands of peanut butter or peanut-free alternatives, from generic to name brand.

“You could go get peanut butter from Meijer or go to Strack & Van Til and buy Jiffy,” he said. “We had one guy who brought in three cases and another who brought in 15 four-pound jars. It’s all in good fun, and it’s going to a good cause.”

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.