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 joined together to help Sumter County sheriff’s deputies get more than 300 bicycles ready to make some local children’s Christmas wishes come true.
The Bikes for Kids program has been operating for nearly 20 years. The sheriff’s office has been collecting both children’s and adult bicycles throughout the year.
This year the bicycle clubs had set up an assembly line to get used bicycles in tiptop shape. As bicycles were brought into the work area, volunteers first checked tire pressure and filled tires that were low. Next the bicycles were moved to a washing and drying station. Once cleaned, the bicycles were moved into an area where professional bicycle mechanics and experienced Villages club members repaired any mechanical problems. After the mechanical inspection, several club members test rode the bicycles to make sure they were in tiptop shape.
Next, the bicycles were moved into the rear of the parking lot were deputies under the direction of Lt. Robert Siemer loaded the bicycles into trucks and trailers. Siemer said the bicycles were heading to four locations in the county where community celebrations will be held. Bicycles will be given to area 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 the way the club members were processing the bikes. The club has more than 800 members he said and the bulk of the volunteers came from his club.
“The program is getting bigger and better every year. People have been very generous,” he said.
He pointed out two very generous donations from Villagers – $4,000 from the Pennecamp Lakesiders and $3,000 from the Shawn McGee charitable fund which had been established in memory of a Villager’s son.
“These donations enabled the club to purchase 109 brand new children’s bikes,” Lawrence said.