The Lake Miona Recreation Center parking lot was overflowing Friday with new and used bicycles donated by villagers to bring joy to Sumter County children this holiday season.
Sixty-six members of the Sumter Landing Bicycle Club and the Village Bicycle Club came together to help Sumter County Sheriff’s Deputies prepare more than 300 bicycles to fulfill local children’s Christmas wishes.
The Bikes for Kids program has been around for almost 20 years. The Sheriff’s Office collected bikes for children and adults throughout the year.
This year, bike clubs had set up an assembly line to get used bikes in perfect condition. As the bicycles arrived in the work area, the volunteers first checked the tire pressure and filled the tires that were deflated. Then the bikes were moved to a washing and drying station. Once cleaned, the bikes were moved to an area where professional bike mechanics and experienced Villages club members repaired any mechanical issues. After the mechanical inspection, several club members tested the bikes to make sure they were in perfect condition.
Then the bikes were moved to the back of the parking lot where deputies under Lt. Robert Siemer loaded the bikes into trucks and trailers. Siemer said the bikes are headed to four county locations where community celebrations will be held. Bikes will be donated to local children and adults in need of transportation. The Holiday Parties will be held at the Sumter County Fairgrounds, Galaxy Home Solutions in Wildwood, Royal and Croom.
Dave Lawrence of the Sumter Landing Bicycle Club was pleased with how club members handled the bikes. The club has more than 800 members, he said, and the bulk of the volunteers came from his club.
“The program gets bigger and better every year. People have been very generous,” he said.
He highlighted two very generous donations from villagers – $4,000 from the Pennecamp Lakesiders and $3,000 from the Shawn McGee Benevolent Fund which was established in memory of a villager’s son.
“These donations enabled the club to purchase 109 new children’s bikes,” Lawrence said.