SIDNEY — Every kid should have a bike, especially at Christmas.
That’s the contention of Mark Reedy, of Piqua, who, with his wife, Gay, has established Mark’s Toys for Tots Bike Drive to provide bicycles and tricycles to needy children in Shelby County.
This is this fifth year for the fundraiser, which has provided hundreds of bicycles for children in Shelby, Miami, and Darke Counties the over the last four Christmas seasons.
The Reedys, Mark’s father, Jim, and Mark’s office assistant, Charlene O’Leary, kicked off the drive Thursday on the courtsquare to raise funds for bike purchases. A half dozen bicycles decorated the base of the southside courthouse steps amid community leaders and festively decorated banners promoting the drive.
Joined by community leaders including Sidney Mayor Mike Barhorst and Shelby County Commissioners Julie Ehemann, Tony Bornhorst and Bob Guillozet and representatives of The Salvation Army of Shelby County and Toys for Tots, Reedy said he is very happy to help the Toys for Tots program in fundraising for Shelby County and Sidney children.
“Every child should have a bike so they can get some exercise and have fun with friends,” Reedy said. He started the program in 2014 and supplied 201 bikes, which were distributed by the Salvation Army, to children in Piqua, Fletcher, Covington and Bradford. Last year, 360 bikes were given to children in Piqua. This year, he will again focus on Shelby County.
Robert Bloom, of Piqua, a member of the Marine Corps League and coordinator of the league’s Toys for Tots projects in Miami, Shelby and Auglaize counties, told kick-off attendees that Toys for Tots doesn’t have the funds to purchase bikes, so he was happy partner up for the cause. The average cost of one bicycle is $90. Toys for Tots purchases toys in the $5-$20 range, Reedy explained. The toys are distributed by the Salvation Army.
“I was more than happy to throw my support behind (Reedy), and look forward to another successful campaign,” Bloom said.
“We always pray there is not much need, but we know that there will be,” Reedy said when thanking attendees for coming including, the United Way which donated $3,500 to the drive. He hopes area residents and businesses will contribute.
Capt. Joseph Hansen of The Salvation Army of Shelby County told attendees, “The most joyful time of the year should not be a sad event for a child, and we are so happy to be able to provide toys and food for children to be able to wake up on Christmas morning and experience that joy.”
Volunteers will assemble the bikes and then families will be able to pick out which bike best fits the receiving child.
“The looks on the parents’ faces, and a few tears and hugs makes your heart feel good, absolutely,” Reedy said. “That day when you are wheeling out bikes literally by the hundreds, it’s a big deal. It’s a really big deal.”
The Mark’s Toys for Tots Bike Drive team will place bicycles in businesses throughout Sidney and Shelby County to publicize the drive.
“We are already excited by the energy of those involved early in the project,” Reedy said. “This project has proven to be a very popular activity to get involved in for the great people of Sidney-Shelby County areas. We appreciate all the help from those contributing financially, volunteers, corporate and anonymous donors, the area community governments, mayors, trustees, etc. A special shout out to the Salvation Army, Toys for Tots, Sidney Alive, Shelby County mayors, trustees and commissioners.”
Donations and volunteers will be accepted through Nov. 21 at marksbikedrive.org, marksbikedrive on Facebook, and by phone at 937-778-1353. Donations payable to Mark’s Bike Drive can be mailed to 429 N. Main St., Piqua, OH 45356.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.