Most children have fond memories of getting a shiny new bike for Christmas.
This year hundreds of underprivileged children in Pensacola can share their own happy memories of receiving a bike, thanks to onbikes Pensacola’s generosity this holiday season.
All total, 682 brand-new Huffy bicycles were distributed to 24 local organizations to ensure that some needy children get to experience the thrill of getting an exciting gift on Christmas Day.
Nearly 200 people showed up at C.A. Weis Elementary School to volunteer in assembling and delivering the bikes throughout the community.
The school’s cafeteria resembled an assembly line, and lunchroom tables became workstations, as the bevy of volunteers teamed together to build enough bikes to almost fill the front yard of the school on Q Street.
Walker Wilson, onbikes Pensacola organizer, said the mission is to provide underprivileged and foster children in the Pensacola Metro area with a bike, helmet and lock to call their own. And, of course, to improve the quality of life for the less fortunate during the holiday season is a part of that mission.
“I am humbled by the fact that I live in a community that stepped up to the plate and was willing to chip in on an idea they had never heard of and that they trusted a bunch of millennials to do it,” Wilson said. “It’s been 360 days since we gave out first bike away and I never could have imagined that we would almost be at 1,000 bikes in less than a year.”
Onbikes Pensacola is the Northwest Florida affiliate of onbikes — the original, Tampa-based nonprofit — which works with local agencies to identify the most children who deserve a bike this Christmas. They are also working with the Epilepsy Foundation of Florida’s Epilepsy Resource Center, who reached out to the group to provide fitted helmets for the children receiving bikes.
Wilson lived in Tampa for about four years and brought the idea to Pensacola when he moved back home last year.
They set a goal to give away 100 bikes the first year and surpassed it by giving away 165 bikes on Dec. 10, 2016.
After a successful Winter Wonder Ride in early 2017 with 250 participants, onbikes used the proceeds from that event to give away another 142 bikes in April of 2017, bringing the total of bikes to 307 at the time.
Of the nearly 700 bikes put together on Saturday, the Studer Community Institute received 100, which will be given to children whose parents participate in its parent outreach programs.
Since July, SCI Parent Outreach Program has reached about 50 parents who have children between ages 0 to 3 in Attucks and Moreno Courts.
Many of the parents also have older children, and those with children up to 11 years old, will have the joy of giving a brand new bike to their child on Christmas Day.
SCI extends a special thanks to volunteers from St. Mark United Methodist Church and Pensacola Area Housing Commission for helping in the assembly and delivery of the many bikes on Saturday.
The bike project brought together a diverse group of volunteers from various agencies, organizations, businesses, churches, etc. toward a common goal of spreading holiday joy throughout the Pensacola Metro.
Onbikes Pensacola organizers and the many sponsors deserve high marks for providing this wonderful event for our children.
“My Hope for onbikes Pensacola is to fulfill our mission of providing every child in need with a bike, helmet and lock and to make sure that we provide a quality event in out Winter Wonder Ride so that families and friends save the date for it every single year,” Wilson said. “We hope that people can come out this year to our Winter Wonder Ride on Dec. 16th at noon in Old Seville Square.”
Registration is $35 at onbikespensacola.org and proceeds will go to building more bikes this spring for kids in Pensacola.
“Remembering the feelings of excitement and joy from that moment is what non-profit onbikes Pensacola hopes inspires you to join them as they strive to provide local underprivileged children with their own happy memories through free bicycles and helmets this holiday season,” Wilson said.
For more information about sponsorship opportunities and events, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or keep an eye out for community events that the onbikes Pensacola team will be hosting throughout the year.