SIDNEY — Volunteers at the Sidney Salvation Army, Thursday morning, wheeled 246 bicycles into the hands of grateful parents whose children will find them under their Christmas trees this year.
Mark’s Toys for Tots Bike Drive concluded with the giveaway during the Salvation Army’s annual distribution of toys and food for the holidays.
In addition to the bikes, every child who didn’t already have one was given a bike helmet. That was a Salvation Army drive to keep the kids safe on their new rides.
The bike drive was begun by Mark Reedy, of Piqua, who organized a similar effort in Piqua in 2014.
“Every child should have a bike so they can get some exercise and have fun with friends,” Reedy said when he opened the campaign in October. Businesses, individuals and social and service clubs contributed to pay for the bikes.
“The fund drive was 100 percent successful. We are still accepting contributions to cover some expenses,” Reedy said. “Sidney, Shelby County and those that love the kids of Shelby County totally supported the project. I’m happy as a clam.”
It took more than 30 volunteers, from organizations, trucking companies and warehouse facilities, as well as members of the general public, to get the bicycles from the store to back rooms at the Salvation Army building.
“We have 80 or 90 bikes packed into rooms,” said Maj. David Payne of the Salvation Army. “My wife did a great job of that. The big gym is full of toys. The smaller gym is full of food.”
Payne said that once the Salvation Army agreed to distribute the bicycles, he and others there determined that helmets should also be distributed.
“Stuff the Bus was a big bike helmet drive. We got 166 (helmets just) through that,” he said.
“We’re thrilled with the Salvation Army and the Marines Toys for Tots program,” Reedy said. “They welcomed us with open arms.”
He said the project is “kind of a leap of faith” and he was surprised again, as he was last year, at how everyone came together to make it happen.
“Two hundred and forty-six bikes at $80 per bike — that’s a $20,000 project. Why would a guy think that would work?” But, he added, with private donations and corporate matches, grants, commissioner and mayoral support and ride-a-bike-to-work promotions, almost all of the needed funds were raised.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4824. Follow her on Twitter @PASpeelmanSDN.