Wheels turning on new kids program

Success of Toys for Tots campaign leads volunteers to a new bike donation effort in 2014

A successful holiday campaign to bring gifts to children in need on the Saanich Peninsula is spinning into a new program to reach children on their birthdays.

The Saanich Peninsula Secret Santas held their Toys for Tots program in December, collecting donations of gifts for girls and boys of families that were experiencing a tight holiday. It was so successful this year, says organizer Sherry Moir, that the volunteers have decided to use some of the left over cash donations to start a new effort.

Toys for Tots received a donation of 20 bikes from Sidney’s Russ Hays Bike Shop, Moir said. Another three donations were trikes and scooters for younger kids. They were able to hand those out to 23 families — only a small portion of the 256 families that Toys for Tots reached through the Sidney Lions Food Bank.

Moir said with the money that was raised from the community, the Secret Santas were able to purchase helmets for each child who received a bike. Five of those, she continued, were donated by a man who had heard of the program and wanted to help in some way.

The generosity of the  community and of the owners of Russ Hays Bike Shop has encouraged Moir to start working on a Bikes for Birthdays program for 2014.

She is planning on working with community donors and volunteers to collect bikes, new or used, fix them up if necessary and donate them to children on the Peninsula on their birthdays. They would be for kids whose families could not otherwise afford a new bike and helmet.

“Over Christmas, Toys for Tots received more than 120 names of kids who don’t have bikes and who didn’t get one of the 23 we had,”Moir said.

So, she is working on collecting those names and trying to get enough donations to give a bike out to each child on that list, on their birthday. The plans are still in their infancy as Moir is in the process of seeking donations of space and volunteer time. She said the program will need a place to collect, store and repair bikes — as well as people willing to help fix them up and hand them out.

Moir has big plans for the Bikes for Birthdays idea — including a big bike rodeo in the spring to help teach children about bike safety. She said it could be a large community event, not unlike the Pumpkins on the Pier event held in October as a fundraiser for Toys for Tots.

Moir still has a lot of legwork to do before the Bikes for Birthdays program can be made official, but she is working on it already and asks that potential volunteers — or donors — contact her via email at sidneysecretsantas@gmail.com.

Watch the PNR for more details as they become available.