Spreading holiday cheer comes in many different ways, but for true bike enthusiasts, giving a child their first bike, well, that is the tree-topper.
“It’s a bit of organized chaos. But it’s so worth it. Because most of us, we’re adults. We remember that magical day when we were kids, and we got our first bike. So, that’s what we’re doing. We’re making all these bikes new for a child who otherwise would not have a bicycle," said Jackie Tyson, vice president of Bike Alpharetta/Bikes for Kids.
For over 15 years, Bike Alpharetta in Georgia has been cleaning, repairing, and donating bikes for the holidays. 2022 has been the biggest year for the group. They spiffed up and fixed over 400 bikes for North Fulton Community Charities.
"We’re probably going to have 150 more bicycles than we provided last year. That’s huge! The bicycle is the number one most requested holiday gift from children. And all of the families that qualify for this program can’t afford a new bicycle," Tyson said.
Each bike goes through rigorous inspection; all the rust buffed off, the brakes tested, and the wheels filled up with air.
"We get them what we call Santa ready. That’s it! Then we hand them over to North Fulton Community Charities, and they do the rest," said Dan Stonacker, a cyclist with Bike Alpharetta.
Their warehouse was filled with bikes. Now those bikes have been cleaned and repaired, and all of these toys join them to give to families in need this holiday season.
"Their ears may not be pointed, but they have an elves heart," said Becky Cottingham, the director of the Toyland program.
She and her team of elves help get these bikes and other toys to their new homes.
"They love bikes. They want to share that experience with other kids. Last year, for example, we said a child could have a bike, and it would count as one of their large gifts. This year we have so many bikes any child can take a bike," Cottingham said.
Piles and piles and piles of toys are stacked in their donated warehouse in metro Atlanta.
The NFCC is helping nearly 600 families this year make holiday magic happen for their children. And for NFCC Board Member Gina Daunt, this program hits close to home.
"When my kids were little, and I needed support from the NFCC, I came and did the Christmas program back then. And I was just amazed. It was just so incredible and heartwarming, and it just blew me away. When I got the okay, I was better off financially, and my kids got older because you have to be a certain age to come help with these things, I’d bring my kids, and we’d come volunteer together to kind of give back. I mean, I never had enough money to give back to NFCC, but I could donate my time and get my kids involved," Daunt said.
Magic is in the air at Toyland and Bike Alpharetta, helped along by the hundreds of volunteers who have come together to provide special gifts for under the tree.
"I wake up Christmas morning, and I know that I’m thinking about that — that they’re getting that bicycle, and that’s pretty special," Stonaker said.
Spreading holiday cheer takes a village, and this is a huge village here of everyday elves to make this happen time and time again. They got a special message for you — what is it? Happy Holidays!
Newsy is the nation’s only free 24/7 national news network. You can find Newsy using your TV’s digital antenna or stream for free. See all the ways you can watch Newsy here.