Bike Giveaway Program Completes Successful 8th Year

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It is Christmas time, and for many children that means unwrapping a new bicycle on Sunday. For most of us, learning to ride our first bike is one of the more memorable times of childhood.

After mastering a bike with training wheels, there comes the day when our parents gently urge us to ride on our own two wheels — a scary proposition for any 5-year-old.

When we finally muster up the courage and our parent lets go of the bike seat so we can pedal on our own, there is that moment we either wobble and correct or crash.

And for most, it is both.

You fall down and get back up again. And fall down again. If you are lucky, you are popping wheelies around the neighborhood in no time.

Thanks to one county program, even less fortunate children will get the chance to partake in this childhood tradition.

For the eighth year, Arizona Department of Correction inmates have retooled thrown away bikes, making them new again.

The program, spearheaded by the Gila County Recycling and Landfill Department, puts a smile on children’s and inmates’ faces. Everyone who worked on this project and contributed to its success needs a pat on the back.

Inmates who rebuild and redecorate the bikes say they love doing something worthwhile with their time, especially at Christmas time when many cannot be with their own children.

This year, northern Gila County received 50 bikes, four of which were given to the Houston Mesa Fire Department to give away to Mesa del, Freedom Acres and Wonder Valley children.

Problem is, Fire Chief Mark Essary said he needs the communities’ help in finding children who could use a bike.

“Unfortunately we don’t have a program yet,” he said.

The Payson Fire Department is giving away a dozen bikes during the Christmas for Kids event.

Anyone who knows of a family that could benefit from a bike for a child this holiday season is asked to call the Houston Mesa Fire District at (928) 472-7908.

Every child should have the chance to wobble and fall and get back up and finally have the joy of pedaling away all by themselves. After all, this is one of the rights of passage that takes us from one part of our childhood to the next.

Generosity of community outstanding again

The Salvation Army Angel Tree at National Bank of Arizona is free of tags today, as are most of its companions throughout the community.

Residents have really stepped up and embraced the opportunity to help their neighbors in need — from children in families that are struggling economically to young people who are among the hundreds in Payson that are considered homeless and seniors who are far away from loved ones.

There is still a need for a few more bell ringers at stores around town, so if you have some time on your hands — just a couple of hours — give John Morgan a call at (928) 474-8454 or (928) 595-0517.

Beyond the various campaigns to make Christmas merry for the less fortunate, the Payson Area Food Drive is still collecting nonperishable goods and monetary donations. The goal is to have 55,000 pounds of food and $30,000 collected by Feb. 5, 2012.

There is a need for volunteers in other groups: folks to work at the Time Out and other thrift stores; tutors for the Rim Country Literacy Program; Rim residents to help local civic and service clubs grow in the future.

As we celebrate this holiday season, we should each take some time to see where we might be able to make a contribution in some way to our community and then make a resolution to step up like our neighbors and step out to help.

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