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Moving gifts

Lydia Johnson | Dec 05, 2018

Kiwanis-family members assemble a bicycle.

Hundreds of children in East Alabama will receive a bike for the holidays this year, thanks to a benevolent benefactor’s donation to four Kiwanis clubs. 

This past year, Bill Wakefield, owner of Martin's Family Clothing stores, purchased 400 returned bikes from Walmart and offered them to the Anniston Kiwanis Club to distribute to children. 
 
Members were more than happy to receive the donation, says Timothy Wilson, the Anniston club’s immediate past president.

“We are a majority poverty location. There’s a tremendous amount of need,” Wilson says.

Wilson and fellow club members replaced countless flat tires, brake handles and training wheels to get the bikes ready. Kids in need were identified through a partnership with the Alabama Department of Human Resources.

“We gave all those bikes away in two hours,” says Wilson. 

Hundreds of bicycles await deliveries to hopeful children. So when the 2018 holiday season approached, the Kiwanians didn’t hesitate to jump into action. 

“We just had such a good experience last year, we wanted to do it again,” says Robert Smith, the club's project chair.

This year, Wakefield purchased 385 new bikes for the giveaway, which will be divided among the Anniston, Oxford, Pell City, and Gadsden Kiwanis clubs. The bikes, which needed minor assembly, came in various sizes, colors and styles.

The Gadsden Kiwanis Club received 75 bikes. The club’s project chair, Glen Williams, arranged assembly help from his fellow members of The Stinger Group bicycle club.

Recipients include children being helped by various social service organizations, including The Salvation Army, the James M. Barrie Center for Children, and the Love Center Inc., a nonprofit shelter for women and families.

“A lot of these kids don’t have a present under the tree on Christmas day,” says Gadsden’s immediate past president, Gil F. Isbell. 

Each participating Kiwanis club is giving bikes and helmets to the recipients’ parents or guardians at a Martin’s Family Clothing store.

“It’s about giving back,” says Isbell. “That’s why we do it. It’s giving back to our community and helping children.”

The gifts will benefit kids beyond the holiday season.

“I love the thought of encouraging kids to be physically active, even when they can’t afford to be,” Wilson says. “We’re providing them that opportunity through providing these bicycles.”

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