The children didn’t say much Thursday night, but they didn’t have to. Their smiles told the story.
Thanks to the Santa Wheels program, 200 children – from toddlers to teenagers – went home with a bicycle after a “bike rodeo” at Master Buick GMC in Martinez.
The donated bicycles were refurbished with parts from Andy Jordan’s Bicycle Warehouse and worked on by volunteers from the community and workers in Goodwill Industries’ training program. Children receiving bicycles were selected through an application to Goodwill’s Job Connections.
Two years ago, three of Collier Badger’s children had their bikes stolen. On Thursday, all four – Mikera, 6; Michaela, 7; Juanitra, 10; and Aniyah, 13 – went home with new ones.
“We’ve been having difficulty financially, and I wanted to get them bikes this year,” Badger said. ”It is truly a blessing.”
Before receiving their bicycles, children and guardians had to go through a four-step process, three led by Safe Kids East Central, which provided bike helmets and fittings and bicycle safety education. After they were through the stations, they received bicycles from soldiers from 551st Battalion Delta Company, based at Fort Gordon.
Jasmine Oliver, 9, thought she was just coming with her friends to get their bikes. She came with Harold Pinckney and his granddaughters Adonis, 9, and Mirical, 10. With her mother, Latonia Darden, watching from the other side of the room, Jasmine got a bike, too.
“Yeah, it was a surprise,” she said. “I was here to get a bike for my friends. The wheels are pretty, the pedals are pretty, and the bike is cute.”
Susan Everitt, Goodwill Industries of the CSRA’s director of communications, said she loved that the organization was able to be involved.
“We’re thrilled to be able to help children get their first bike,” she said. “Children that wouldn’t be getting a bike otherwise.”