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.
The Reedys, Mark’s father, Jim, and Mark’s office assistant, Charlene O’Leary, kicked off a drive Thursday on the courtsquare to raise funds for bike purchases. A dozen two- and three-wheelers decorated the base of the southside courthouse steps amid gaily decorated banners promoting the drive.
Introduced by Shelby County Commissioner Bob Guillozet, Reedy said he is proud to help Toys for Tots.
“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. This year, he will 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 the bikes are “a great addition to what we already do.” Toys for Tots purchases toys in the $5-$20 range, he said. Last year, 2,000 toys were given to 1,080 children in Shelby County and 13 million toys were delivered to 7 million children nationwide. The toys here are distributed by the Salvation Army.
“We enjoy seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces. Mark’s drive fills a valuable niche in our program,” Bloom said.
Reedy would not say how many bikes he will purchase this year.
“The need will be met, whatever it is,” he said. He hopes that area residents and businesses will contribute. The average cost of one bicycle is $80. He has suggested that businesses or departments within businesses challenge each other to raise enough money for multiple bike purchases by each business. Any person or business donating at least $80 will have his name or the business name put on a bike.
Volunteers will assemble them and transport them to the receiving families.
“The looks on those parents’ faces and the tears (in 2014) made me want to do it again,” Reedy said. “(Last year’s drive) was successful thanks to donations by the community. If you each tell five friends who love kids and ask them to tell two more, that will do it. We’re thrilled with the outpouring of community support south of here and expect the same to happen here.”
Sidney Mayor Mike Barhorst also spoke at the event, which was attended also by local nonprofit representatives, Chamber of Commerce officials, all three Shelby County commissioners and village leaders.
The Mark’s Toys for Tots Bike Drive team has placed bicycles and tricycles in businesses throughout Sidney and Shelby County, including in the office of the Sidney Daily News, to publicize the drive.
Donations and offers to help assemble bikes will be accepted through Nov. 20 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.
“The joy of watching a child receive a bicycle as a gift at Christmas time is pretty hard to beat,” Reedy said.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4824. Follow her on Twitter @PASpeelmanSDN.