Volunteers gave away more than 1,000 bicycles to children and teens in Grand Rapids on Saturday, Dec. 23.
Grand Rapids-based nonprofit Elves & More brought four trucks full of bicycles to the Creston area for its 13th annual bicycle giveaway. Volunteers put the bikes together on Dec. 17.
"It's organized chaos, but I mean that in a good way," said Greg Dennany, who has volunteered at the event since it started.
More than 100 volunteers met at Van's Delivery and arrived in a caravan at City High Middle School to distribute the bicycles. Law enforcement officers then drove through the neighborhood with sirens blasting to alert people of the giveaway.
"We were walking our dog and heard all the sirens," said Katie Roper, whose son Charlie got a bicycle. "They said they were giving away bikes, so we literally ran [there]."
The community appreciates this event, said Valerie Gibbs. Her five-year-old son Quintez also got a new bike.
"It means a lot to a lot of people because some of the people can't afford it," Gibbs said. "Some of us are unfortunate and can't afford stuff like this. And we really appreciate it. Everyone in the neighborhood really appreciates it."
The reaction from the kids keeps the volunteers coming back, Dennany said.
"When they're leaving, there's about that much room between the earth and their feet," he said. "They're just so enthusiastic and excited. That's what it's about. It's about making a positive difference in a child's life."
Over the last 12 years, Elves & More has provided 14,000 new bikes and helmets to multiple neighborhoods in Grand Rapids.
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