Bikes For Kids
This holiday season, several cycling organization made hundreds of Southern California kids very happy and active for the holidays with the gift of a bicycle. In San Diego, Rally Cycling Team partnered with Rally Health and San Diego Chargers’ Melvin Gordon for “Holiday Bike Build” giving 52 children of service members stationed at Naval Base San Diego’s Admiral Prout Field brand new Diamondback bikes. In Riverside, Jenson USA and Free Agent BMX handed out 60 bikes to elementary students during the annual East Hills Holiday Bicycle Giveaway, and the Fontana Police Department gave 100 kids a bike each for their annual Bicycle Giveaway.
A San Diego-based nonprofit that makes surprise deliveries throughout California called Bikes for Kids, surprised 100 students at Thorman Elementary School in Tustin with bicycles for the holidays. The Bikes for Kids nonprofit works with local organizations, volunteers, and community members to surprise kids all over Southern California with bicycles. In 2014 Velo Allegro cycling club and the president William Pullano brought this event to Long Beach to promote cycling within the city. Each year a low-income YMCA partner school in the City of Long Beach, with a minimum of 90% of students on free or reduced lunch, is selected to participate. What makes Bikes for Kids unique, is that they incorporate the element of surprise into the giveaway, announcing to the classes, after the winners are given their awards, that ALL the third graders receive a bicycle.
Closing the year out for third graders at Jenny Oropeza Elementary School was the surprise of a bicycle, built by members of Velo Allegro, YMCA of Greater Long Beach and Bikable Communities. President Mike Mische, along with the original organizer William (Bill) Pullano, Alvaro Rodriguez from the YMCA, and volunteers from the organizations represented gathered in the assembly room on the Friday evening before the reveal, to build the bicycles. Club members and local businesses donated for the purchase of the bikes and helmets. Over 50 people showed up to help diligently assemble the bikes with a final inspection by the club’s bike shop sponsor.
On the day of the assembly the students believed that bicycles will only be given to a few winners of an essay contest that answers the question, “How can having a bike help me make my community better?” During the awards bicycles were gifted to one student from each class as the essay is read aloud. After the winners were recognized, principal Mona Cook and club members stood in front of the closed curtain and announced that there was a surprise in store. They pulled back the curtains on the assembly stage to unveil 130 bikes, while all the kids cheered in excitement knowing that they were all getting a bike.
The following day, was the official Bikes for Kids “pickup day” at the school, in which the students and their parents came to claim the bikes and get an overview of bike basics from Velo Allegro club members and local YMCA volunteers. According to the official organizer of the event Pullano, the highlight of the pick up was “working with [volunteers] Al, Laura, Shelley, Kenan, Matt and Evelyn to teach two of the students how to ride their new bikes.” School administrators, with assistance by club members, collected parent waivers and released the bikes to each third grader.
The kids were very gracious, each writing a letter of thanks to the members of Velo Allegro, YMCA of Greater Long Beach, Bikable Communities, and the loved ones of community members. Many of them made promises to use their bicycle to help in their community, including picking up trash in the city. One letter read, (corrected for spelling errors) “Thank you for the bikes, when you opened the curtains I was starting to jump out of my seat and yell out like everyone did! My name is Zuleyma and I am 8-years-old. I am going to take care of my bike by cleaning it! I am going to ride my bike and clean the city of Long Beach.”
You can view more photos of the Bikes 4 Kids event at Allan Crawford’s Gallery.