By Sherry Koonce
The News staff writer
BEAUMONT — Rows and rows of shiny new bicycles awaited 1,000 area children Saturday during a big Christmas giveaway at Ford Park.
Co-sponsored by Academy Sports and Outdoors and the Reaud Foundation, the gift of bicycles was an effort to give back this holiday season.
Outside Ford Park, the line snaked along the front of the building, down the side, and around the back as children and their families waited their turns to get inside and celebrate the Christmas season.
For the 10th consecutive year, the Christmas partners presented area children, ages 6-12, with not only bikes, but a half-day of holiday cheer complete with free pizza, balloons, cotton candy, carolers, a puppet show and much more. .
Gina Harmon, 32, of Beaumont, brought her two children, Kelcey, 9, and Kerrah, 7.
It was the first time for the family to attend the bike giveaway.
“This is such a good way to help the children,” Gina Harmon said.
Harmon said her husband was laid off from his job for several months earlier this year. Though he has since found another job, it does not pay as well.
“This is just a blessing for us,” she said. “I think it is a great and awesome thing they are doing.”
For 12-year-old Keysean Thomas and his younger brother Keaaron Thomas, 9, both of Beaumont, the new bikes will replace an old ones they already have.
“We are so excited. It’s a time of recession, money is tight in our family. We would not have been able to afford bicycles if not for this,” his mother Verjetta Thomas, said.
Angela Davidson, 27, of Groves, said though the bicycles were great, the lesson learned from giving was invaluable to her children.
Though Davidson said her family are having financial difficulties during these hard economic times, she did not want to let the season pass without giving to others.
“We’ve already donated food and toys this Christmas,” she said. “My son’s bike that he got used from someone down the road is getting too small, and we don’t really have the money for a big present like that. This gift will teach him why it’s important to give to others,” she said.
Though the children came expecting bicycles, they were surprised with the gift of other holiday goodies. The children were given helmets, bike locks, Chuck Taylor sneakers, footballs, soccer balls, candy, apparel and bibles.
To make the event possible, Academy discounted a special order of bikes and coordinated their assembly on behalf of the Reaud Foundation, according to a statement issued by Academy.
By Sherry Koonce
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