The holidays for more than 100 Wabash Valley children will soon be brighter after Saturday's distribution of bicycles from Chances and Services for Youth.

As part of the Bikes for Tikes program, CASY distributed 122 bikes to Vigo County elementary and middle schools and CRADLES of Clay County.

CASY chief operating officer Brandon Halleck said providing bikes to kids in need gives children independence and responsibility and increases their self-esteem.

An early Christmas: CASY distribues 122 bicycles to Valley children

Tribune-Star/Joseph C. Garza One of Santa's elves: CASY Executive Director Brandon Halleck directs the distribution of Bikes for Tykes bicycles on Saturday in the parking lot of the Booker T. Washington Center.

"I think most of us remember that favorite bike we got at Christmas time," Halleck said. "And I think that feeling is really what we're trying to give all the kids who may not have, especially this year, something at Christmas time."

"And a bike is a gift kids can really use. It's a mode of transportation that can take them to and from school or here to the community center."

As has been the case with most everything during the COVID-19 health crisis, Halleck said this year's distribution has taken more effort than in year's past, despite having fewer than half the bikes.

"We had to reduce the number of bikes this year from 400 to 122," Halleck said "And frankly, I think we've been lucky to get this done.

"With the pandemic and everything going on, we are blessed to be able to do all that we've done."

Allen Ring has for many years helped pick up and transport bikes for students in need at Sugar Grove Elementary. His late wife Sandra was a career educator who worked at Sugar Grove.

On Saturday, he and Sugar Grove counselor Amanda Piland loaded nine bikes into the bed of Ring's son's truck to take back to the school for later distribution.

"Our families don't have a lot at Sugar Grove," Piland said. "So it's really nice to be able to fulfill a Christmas wish for them. Otherwise they might not be able to get something, especially this year."

Ring echoed Piland's sentiment, saying it's a credit to the community for still being able to come through for the kids despite all that's happened this year.

An early Christmas: CASY distribues 122 bicycles to Valley children

Tribune-Star/Joseph C. Garza Making spirits bright: A small tag on a new bicycle wishes a youngster a Merry Christmas on Saturday in the parking lot of the Booker T. Washington Center.

"It's wonderful to see that we have a community that can do stuff like this for kids who don't have basic things like a bicycle," Ring said. "Especially with everything going on, kids need to get outside and do something and have that sense of normalcy."

As has become custom, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology students assembled the bicycles Saturday morning before CASY hauled them to their offices on 13th Street.

"It's a great partnership we have with Rose-Hulman and a great way to utilize some very talented college students," Halleck said.

"And I know they enjoy their part of this because it brings us all a little more together as part of the community."

Helping CASY distribute the bicycles Saturday were volunteers from the Rotary Club of Terre Haute South and members of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity.

Halleck said administration of this year's bicycle giveaway was different than in year's past in that CASY bought the bikes before securing the requisite donations to do so, in light of shortages due to COVID-19.

He said CASY would more than appreciate donations to help cover costs. To donate, visit any First Financial Bank, the CASY office at 1101 South 13th Street, or online at casyonline.org/donate.

Reporter Alex Modesitt can be reached at 812-231-4232 or at alex.modesitt@trisbtar.com Follow him on Twitter @TribStarAlex. 

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