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  • Mon December 25 2006
  • Posted Dec 25, 2006
By Hieu Pham Iowa City Press Citizen What makes for a better Christmas present than a shiny, brand new bike? This year, the Bicyclists of Iowa City have collaborated with the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Johnson County to give away $1,000 worth of free bikes to children just before Christmas. "A bike should be a part of every childhood," said Brian Loring, a board member of BIC. Inspired by the group's annual surplus, Loring pitched the idea of working with a local nonprofit group to provide children 6 to 8 years old with their first bike. "The really neat thing is everybody we asked to help just said yes," Loring said. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Johnson County paired the 12 new bikes with children participating in their program. Director Scott Hansen said the bikes gave volunteer mentors a chance to give an impressive gift to their little "brothers and sisters." "We put a call out to volunteers to see if they wanted to give this to their kids and about 50 to 60 responses came back within a day," Hansen said. To narrow down the list, he said the youngster's ability to take care and store the bike was assessed, and volunteers had to commit to getting the bikes ready and teaching kids who didn't know how to ride. "I know when I was a kid I loved getting bikes," Hansen said. "It's always a good thing to see more kids on bikes." The bikes are single speed and come with training wheels, helmets and locks. "It's a little cold now, but it's OK, they'll be able to dream about riding them for the next couple of months," Hansen said. Children received a voucher to pick up bikes at World of Bikes and Geoff's Bikes and Skis, where the bikes were purchased. The businesses, located on South Gilbert Street, also volunteered to assemble the bikes and make any necessary adjustments. Because they had only three weeks to plan, Loring said he wanted to start the program off small this year and then expand. "We wanted to keep it manageable, but it will be bigger next year," he said.

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