Prison program gives away 300 bicycles
More than 300 bicycles refurbished by Lansing Correctional Facility inmates are on their way to new homes, just in time for Christmas.
The bikes were turned over Friday to representatives from more than 30 service organizations and groups, including representatives of the Lansing Mayor's Christmas Fund.
"The biggest thing is, this is for all for the kids; that's the way I look at this," said Douglas Hopper, one of about a dozen inmates who "rescued" bikes and attended the bike giveaway at the Lansing Community Center.
Warden Dave McKune said this year marked the first time in the program's six-year history that prisoners had surpassed the mark of 500 refurbished bikes. He thanked the inmates for going "above and beyond" the call in working in the volunteer program."
"That's just phenomenal work on their part, and it's definitely worth acknowledgement," he said.
McKune told the audience there's nothing quite like the look on a child's face when he or she receives one of the bikes.
"I've been fortunate enough to be there at times when a few of the bikes actually were given to the kids, and : for some of them, it's the best gift they've had in a long, long time," McKune said.
The bike giveaway program began in 1999 at the prison with 25 bikes; a year ago, the total was just shy of 450 bikes.
McKune thanked the participating groups and organizations for their help distributing the bikes, collecting bikes to be refurbished and helping supply the materials needed to get the job done. Groups included Lions Club members from Eudora, Valley Falls, Gardner, Topeka, area school districts, and Mother to Mother Ministry, among others.
McKune also thanked prison staff members who volunteer their time with the program.
"It takes a lot of time and effort to be out there collecting the bikes, coordinating the income of the bikes, coordinating the outflow of the bikes, getting parts for repair : It's a nightmare. But it's worth it," he said.
Lansing City Clerk Karen Logan attended the giveaway and said 18 of the bikes would be going to children in and around Lansing through the Mayor's Christmas Tree Fund.
"It's nice to be able to present kids on the Mayor's Christmas Tree list with the bikes," Logan said. "Without this program, I don't know if a lot of the kids would be able to get a bike because bikes are expensive."
As the various representatives on hand Friday began picking up their bikes and taking them to awaiting trucks, many of them stopped to thank the inmates for helping make a child's Christmas wish come true.
The deed was not lost on the inmates.
"I fathered 11 children," said Julian Allen, an inmate who has worked in the program about three months. "I never did raise them, so it's a chance for me to help somebody else who is raising their children."