A shiny bicycle is often at the top of Christmas wish lists, and this December about 100 needy children will see that dream realized with the combined efforts of Master Pontiac Buick GMC and other area organizations.
Through the Santa Wheels program, donated bicycles will be refurbished and repaired, then given to children in December, said Russell Reams, marketing manager at the Master dealership.
The program began 10 years ago when a manager of the dealership saw a perfectly good bicycle in a trash bin and knew a child would love it, Reams said. The early years of the program were almost too much of a good thing, as donations grew and it became cumbersome to house the entire operation at the car dealership.
"We needed partners," Reams said.
This year, the program has been resurrected as a cooperative effort among Master Pontiac Buick GMC, Andy Jordan's Bicycle Warehouse, Goodwill Industries, The Medical College of Georgia/Safe Kids and CW Augusta television.
Master will provide volunteers to mentor job trainees from Goodwill Industries as they repair bicycles at a Goodwill location, and the dealership will serve as a dropoff point for donated bikes.
Andy Jordan's Bicycle Warehouse, which also is a drop off point, will provide any necessary parts, specialized tools and repair expertise. The Safe Kids program will provide helmets, and CW television has helped with publicity.
"Bikes are a big part of Christmas, and we want to put a smile on the kids' faces for the holidays," said Drew Jordan, of Andy Jordan's Bicycle Warehouse. "This joint effort is a way to give back to the community that is meaningful."
Santa will be present when children receive their bikes and helmets and learn safe riding habits at a bicycle rodeo in mid December.
Children won't be the only ones to benefit from the program, said Meredith Vasquez, the executive director of Goodwill Industries CSRA.
"The Goodwill trainees are hoping for jobs and deserving children will get bikes," she said.
Trainees are learning skills such as attention to safety and operating as part of a team that will help them enter the work force, she said.
"We believe in helping people help themselves. The Santa Wheels program fits into our mission," she said.
To donate an unneeded bike, visit the car dealership at 3710 Washington Road or the bicycle shop at 537 13th St. by Dec. 16. Contributors will receive a donation receipt for tax purposes.
To volunteer with the program, call (706) 790-5350. To nominate a child to receive a bicycle, contact Goodwill at (706) 790-8500.
In another effort involving bikes, about 30 adult and youth members of the Order of the Arrow Boy Scouts honor society gathered Saturday at a Martinez home to refurbish bikes to be donated to Augusta Urban Ministries. Rick Mann, a volunteer leader of the group, said the boys rebuilt the bikes and the adults gave technical advice.
Though the boys give much of their time and effort to complete a major project to become Eagle Scouts, Mann said they also must continue to serve their communities through other means.
"We try to instill a legacy of servant leadership for these youth," he said.
Staff Writer J. Scott Trubey contributed to this article.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.