Goodwill trainees will supply bikes for area children

Lehman Geiger's primary concern is safety when it comes to fixing bikes that will eventually become the property of an area child.

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Lehman Geiger works on a child's bicycle as part of Goodwill Industries' annual Santa Wheels program, which provides free bikes for area children.   Zach Boyden-Holmes/Staff
Zach Boyden-Holmes/Staff
Lehman Geiger works on a child's bicycle as part of Goodwill Industries' annual Santa Wheels program, which provides free bikes for area children.

Geiger is one of nine Goodwill trainees who have been working with volunteer mentors since Nov. 1 to repair bicycles for the annual Santa Wheels program.

To be involved in such a program "means the world" said Geiger, who is also an avid bike rider.

"I have the opportunity to roll up my sleeves, get in here and assess these bikes, break them down, rehabilitate the bikes for the children for their benefit, and that makes you feel good," he said.

"My children are all grown up, but as a father myself, seeing a child out riding a bike is a great thing. But safety is really important and so I check each bike out, from top to bottom. Knowing it's going to a deserving child makes you feel good. Knowing it's safe can give you peace of mind."

The trainees are participating through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development WORKing Solutions program, said Veronica Grier, career services technician for Goodwill Industries.

"This is a program that is funded by HUD to assist persons who are going through a homeless transition to find employment," she said. "Under that Working Solutions program, we assist those going through that transition by furnishing them with job- readiness workshops, counseling, job placement, identifying and establishing goals, job search, job referrals. Once they are employed, we follow up with them."

The program pays the trainees while they learn, she said.

Trainee Mike Austin is looking forward to the Santa Wheels rodeo in December when the children will receive the bikes he and his fellow trainees are refurbishing.

"I think we're all working for the same purpose, to put a smile on a child's face," he said.

Trainee Sammie Smith has similar feelings.

"I'm happy to be a part of this," he said. "The Lord has really blessed me to be a part of this and to learn new skills, and at the same time, I can help make a child's Christmas a good one."

For more information about Santa Wheels, visit www.santawheels.com.

Santa Wheels

People may donate single-speed children's bikes at Master Pontiac Buick GMC on Washington Road in Augusta, or on Richland Avenue in Aiken or at Andy Jordan's Bicycle Warehouse on 13th Street in Augusta.

Individuals or groups may volunteer as mentors or to assist in refurbishing bikes. To volunteer, contact Taryn Law, volunteer coordinator, at (706) 691-6527 or tlaw@goodwillworks.org.

Parents and guardians may submit applications through Dec. 3 to receive a bicycle for their children. Applications can be obtained by calling (706) 790-8500.


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