WALNUT CREEK, Calif. (KRON) – Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, local firefighters had to pause on the bike distributions the last two years, but this Christmas, the program that started more than 20 years ago returns.
“It’s humbling, it’s an honor, it’s heartwarming,” Capt. Chris Toler told KRON4 News.
For over a decade, Toler has been bringing smiles to dozens of kids’ faces through the local 1230 Bikes 4 Tykes program.
Every year the union, Professional Firefighters of Contra Costa County Local No. 1230, partners with local organizations to gift kids in need with a new ride.
“Families are very appreciative of the help and we could all use help during this time,” Toler said. “Some of us are a little more fortunate than others.”
The bikes are brand-spanking new, straight out-of-the-box. They’re delivered to groups like pacific clinics that work with kids who have not grown up in a healthy environment.
“We have like a 180-something families who’ve been adopted for the holidays and the typical response is without your support we would not have a Christmas,” Pacific Clinics Clinical Associate Director Antoinette Harris said.
The statewide behavioral agency provides mental health, transitional housing, and adoption services.
“I’d say 90% of the kids that we work with and adults, young adults, have experienced some sort of trauma within their lives,” Harris said.
But Harris said these bikes allow the kids to explore their neighborhoods and acquire a new skill set.
“A lot of our teens have asked for bikes because they don’t drive but they have to go to school or they go to work and so the bike is one mode of transportation,” Harris said. “For our younger kids it’s about building confidence.”
Overall, organizers have been able to collect enough donations to buy 60 bikes.
They’ll go to kids as young as 5 and as old as 16 years of age.
As an agency, Harris said they’re not able to purchase bikes for every child, but they’re grateful it’s able to happen for some kids through this partnership.
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“It really helps us fulfill a need and not just a wish that many families have,” Harris said.
These firefighters are going to hand these bikes to the local organizations they’re partnering with and after that, those organizations will deliver the bikes to the families in need just in time for Christmas.