15 December 2017

Angels Across America

One thing I learned about myself early on is that cynicism comes easily, sometimes too easily, for me.  So I try to look for the things that give me realistic hopes about the world.  That's better than waiting for events like Roy No-Moore in Alabama to strike like a sugar rush that, ineveitably, leaves me feeling let-down after the initial euphoria dies down.

Well, today, I didn't have to look far to find good news.  You see, I decided to type "bicycle news" into a Google search bar to see what ideas I could come up for today's post.  And, wouldn't you know it, the first four entries under "news" were about people or programs that were giving bikes to needy kids for Christmas.

Burbank Bike Angels

I have written about such people and programs before.  But I am seeing now that there are even more than I realized, including the Burbank Bike Angels in the Los Angeles area, the Davenport (Iowa) Friendly House--which gives away bikes restored by inmates in the local jail.

Naiomia Jenkins receives a bike at the Davenport Friendly House

I want to make special mention of Ann Mathis in Fayetteville, North Carolina.  Yes, that town has something besides Fort Bragg, although it might be hard to know that sometimes.  (I know; I've been there.)  The people are great, but even in such an environment, someone like Ms. Mathis stands out.

Ann Mathis, with some of "her" kids.

As did her husband, Moses.  For 27 years, he ran an operation that restored bikes and, a few days before Christmas, allowed kids to choose them, without any adults present.  "Moses would turn over in his grave if I had the parents come in here and pick a bike," she explained.  "That is the truth."

She has been running the operation since Moses Mathis died in July of 2013.  When the kids pick a bike, they are given a gift bag to go along with it. Those bags include things like shoes, socks, hats and gloves, which nearly all of the children need, as well as "something educational," according to volunteer Ada Johnson.  Over the years, she estimates, they have given about 17,000 bags.

Another volunteer, Keith Melvin, has been restoring bikes for the past six years.  It isn't always easy, he says, "to make a new bike new" but "we get it done."  All they have to do, he said, is go into their storeroom and "find the parts."

They are part of a community of people who bring Christmas cheer to needy kids. They all are motivated by the delight kids express upon receiving their bikes, and they know that few things can make a kid happier at Christmastime than a new bike--even if that bike didn't come straight from the showroom!

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