Christmas Bike Program a Happy Success for 313 Children

On Saturday December 5th, caring citizens of Artesia assembled and delivered to the Grand Heights Kindergarten 313 Christmas bikes. Ride for Bikes, a public charity, celebrated its tenth year in 2015 of providing bikes to children in southeastern New Mexico.

During those ten years, Ride for Bikes has awarded bikes to children through CASA, Grammy’s House and Head Start in Artesia, Hearts Desire in Lovington, Head Start in Roswell, Head Start in Carlsbad and Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Southeast New Mexico. For the past two years, every kindergartner in Artesia has received a new bike. More than 2,800 bikes have been provided to children through the generosity of donors and volunteers.

In order to make it a more rewarding experience, the children had to earn their bike. The younger children made Christmas cards for our troops overseas or for the wounded soldiers in the VA Hospitals. The older children did more. One little girl who had long hair showed up to the bike presentation with a short bob. She had given her hair to Locks of Love. All of these children learned a powerful lesson of giving.

The children receiving the bikes were not the only ones that learned lessons and received gifts through this program. All who were involved walked away with a new sense of happiness, purpose, love and generosity. For the organizers of Ride for Bikes, the state football championship on the day scheduled for the bike build was a huge concern. It takes a lot of hands to build 313 bikes, and we feared that many of those would be in Las Cruces. But, as always, the people of Artesia were not going to let the children down. More than a hundred people showed up to build bikes, air up tires and load and deliver bikes.

It was a heartwarming sight to see so many families coming together to help children. There were familiar faces and newcomers among the volunteers, all of whom had so much fun that they are definitely coming out to help next year.

The assembled bikes were transported to Grand Heights where Principal Mitzi McCaleb had gathered up a team to unload and display the bikes in the gym. The 313 bikes took up all of the floor space and the stage.

On Monday December 7th, the kindergarteners were told there was a big surprise waiting for them in the gym. As the children streamed into the gym, their eyes grew large at the sight of 313 bicycles. Many of them asked, “Do I get one?” When told that these bikes were a gift from the community, there were a lot of “wows” from the children.

One mother stood in the corner with tears in her eyes. She said that the only thing her daughter had requested for Christmas was a new bike, but the family had not been able to afford one. She was so thankful that her daughter now had her Christmas bike. A new teacher that had transferred to Atresia from another New Mexico school was also teary eyed as she praised Artesia and said she had never heard of such a program anywhere else.

Ride for Bikes depends on the generosity of people to continue providing bikes for children. Your donation now will help us continue to make Christmas wishes come true and to provide the children of Artesia a healthy activity. Please visit our website to make a contribution online, or mail your check payable to Greater Artesia Foundation with “Ride for Bikes” in the memo to P.O. Box 1344, Artesia, NM 88211-1344.

All of the work and donations come from individual people and companies in the surrounding community. That is part of the wonderful thing about this program. It really is a community effort.

Pictures of this year’s bike build and giveaway will be posted on the website at some point.

It is a good feeling to do good for others. Ride for Bikes would like to thank everyone involved and wishes everyone a Merry Christmas!