CLEVELAND — What happens when you combine a shared love of tricked-out Jeeps and a desire to give back? Well, those interests come together here in Cleveland in a very unique club called the "Jeep Invaders."
"It almost makes me emotional because it's almost a sense of rescue," club president Eric Payne said. "They see all the Jeeps coming in to help and you see devotion on people's face and they see what we're doing, it's priceless."
The Jeep Invaders are a community organization that rides with a purpose. If you ever see a row of colorful custom jeeps in your area, you can rest assured that something good is happening.
Payne says there's no limits to how the Invaders can help.
"We've done birthday parties, we have done [fundraising for] a women's shelter, men's shelter, we could pass out gloves, and hats, give away turkeys...gift cards," he said.
"I mean anything the community needs, the Jeep Invaders tries to meet that service," board member Colin Jackson added.
Founded in 2019, the Jeep Invaders have quickly become a mainstay in community outreach, and this recent year has taken their service for the city to the next level. We found them on a recent Saturday passing out hand sanitizer and mask-decorating kits for kids on Miles Road.
"During the pandemic, we all have to be so socially distant," Jackson said. "We can't gather together and celebrate, so when you get an invasion from The Jeep Invaders of 15 Jeeps riding down your street, whether you're a 75-year-old grandmother or a five-year-old, one event at a time, we're bringing a smile to everybody."
With partnerships now happening with the Cleveland Browns, the Urban League, Ariane Kirkpatrick, Soup for the Soul and other organizations, the Jeep Invaders are truly on their way to invade Northeast Ohio. But whether through a big event or a small one, Jackson says they remain committed to their community and to one another.
"My hope is that we are able to continue to do that and build that and, more importantly, that we can bring more people along with us for this invasion, because we can't serve the community without community helping us do this."