The weather may have been a little overcast on Friday, December 4, 2015; what was shining bright though, was the hearts of the Volunteers at the Lake Miona Recreation Center. From 8:00 a.m. to noon, donated bicycles where dropped off or even picked up then fixed up and washed up, all in a great annual effort to donate these bikes to needy children all around Sumter County. Last year, over 200 bicycles were collected and distributed to needy youths in the Sumter County area. Members of local bicycle clubs in The Villages were available to clean and do minor repairs on donated bicycles the day of the collection.
Many of the bicycles were donated simply because of unuse. In the video at the top of the page, Elaine Boyer had a bicycle picked up out of her garage that her daughter gave her, she simply never rides it. Al from The Village of Hadley generously came in and donated his bike, ” I have a 12 speed practically brand new. I can no longer ride it so, it sat in the garage for years on flat tires and I knew it was time to let it go and let somebody else enjoy it”.
There were countless others that needed small repairs and some TLC, luckily, the caring hands and hearts of The Village Bicycle Club were in abundance and all was catered to. No small oversight for the children in need this Christmas. The Sumter County Sheriff’s Department was hands on the entire way; from organizing, transporting, storing, and even helping with distribution later this weekend, this truly is a team event! Scott Hubbard with ERA Grizzard Realty dropped off multiple bikes, that they had been collecting for some time now, all for this event!
There were areas for washing, repairing, even test riding to make sure these bicycles were like new again before heading off to storage. “We just had a lady come by and give us a hundred dollar bill, and said this is for your cause, she came by last year to pick up a bike for a family who needed a bike, but didnt have the money. This year she simply wanted to give back towards our efforts.” says Ed Hankwitz, former President of The Village Bicycle Club. He along with his wife and two other volunteers spearheaded the organizational flow and were kept busy taking calls, and overall management of this incredible event! Ann Hankwitz shares how special this really is to her ” It just warms my heart to know that someone is going to enjoy that bike, it makes you sad, but incredibly happy to help someone in need.”
Lt. Siemer as seen above and The Sumter County Sheriffs Department has a list of families who have children and adults who need a bike, their office helps in the proper distibution process. Each bycicle will be handed to the family ready to ride this weekend just in time for Christmas! Hard work, gentle hands and caring hearts pulled this fantastic display of holiday giving together, determination for a generous cause!