Officers will give away more than 50 youth-sized bikes. Each selected child will receive a bike, helmet and other gifts. Local schools helped to identify children and families with the greatest need.
“This never gets old,” said Leesburg Senior Officer Mike Howard. “If you love what you do for a living, you never have to go to work a day in your life. This time of year makes every day perfect.”
The police department purchases all new bikes with support from individual and business donations throughout the past year. This year, the department received large financial contributions from Walmart, Cutrale Citrus Juices USA, Beyers Funeral Home and Crematory and the American Legion. Amscot contributed safety helmets.
Many police representatives braved long lines and mobs of busy shoppers to take advantage of Black Friday sales Nov. 25 at the Oxford and Leesburg Wal-Mart supercenters. The big sales helped to ensure the most bikes could be purchased with available donated funds.
Two people spent three days unpacking stacks of boxes and assembling bicycles of all sizes, styles and colors at the police department on Magnolia Street.
Howard heads up the bike giveaway and also conducts five bicycle safety events each year for children: “The joy you can see in the children’s eyes – it makes you want to bring even more to them. There is so much need in our community.”
The officers can build a single bicycle in about 20 minutes depending on the model. The garage at the police department now resembles a large toy shop filled with bicycles, helmets and assorted toys.
After Friday, Howard said, most everyone will feel a bit exhausted but very proud to help make the holidays a little more special for children.
Leesburg is a progressive city of more than 20,000 residents in northwest Lake County. The city government serves twice as many people with its electric, gas, water, wastewater and fiber-optic public utilities. Leesburg also is a central hub for commerce, attracting 50,000 people to work each weekday.