Bike giveaway, safety demos benefit area youngsters



May 8, 2017 - 12:00 AM

Fifty-four area children became the luckiest kids in town Saturday during a bike giveaway sponsored by Humanity House.
Children who were preregistered were given a bike and a safety helmet.
The gifts came with the condition they complete four hours of assigned community service work. Tracy Keagle, director of Humanity House, told the children acts of kindness change the impression people have of them.
After the bikes were distributed, Iola Police officers David Shelby, Mike Aronson and Tim Francis taught a basic safety and maintenance course. Several children who already owned bikes also showed up to take the safety course, Humanity House worker Sabrina Greer said. 
Keagle encouraged the children to take care of their new bikes and offered them the opportunity to trade them in for larger bikes in two years. The giveaway was a joint effort. Walmart donated $500 toward the purchase of the bikes and Iola Insurance donated the helmets. SafeBase also made a monetary contribution and Ellen Glover donated four bikes, raising the total to 54.
“It’s a big thing,” Aronson said.“You got to have organizations step up and help people and they are leading the way on this one, and we will do anything we can to support that.”
Cayden Ratliff received one of the bikes equipped with training wheels. He said when he “grows up” he plans to take the training wheels off. 
Mary Payne, LaHarpe, said she registered all four of her children for the bike program. Until Saturday, they were sharing one bike.
“It’s great,” Payne said of the give-away. “I could never afford to get one of the kids a new bike let alone four, it’s amazing. It’s made life alot easier, no more fighting.”
Deanna Saichompoo, Gas, said she brought her three grandchildren to the event. None of the children had bikes. She liked the fact that the kids have to do community service work in order to earn them, she said.
“It keeps them from being lazy and it keeps them healthy.”
Mateo Andrade said his bike was stolen last month. He likes his new bike, he said, because it has similar features to the one he had. He plans on keeping his new bike locked.

TODAYS PHOTOS    5/8bikes

Photo credit: Shellie Smitley
7764   Candrella McCullough maneuvers her way through the bike safety obstacle course on her new bike.   

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