On Saturday, December 5, 2015 Navajo Refining employees, their contractors and many citizens from Artesia, NM assembled and delivered 313 Christmas bikes to the Grand Heights Kindergarten. Ride for Bikes, a public charity, celebrated its tenth year in 2015 of providing bikes to children in southeastern New Mexico.
During those ten years, Ride for Bikes has awarded bikes to children through CASA, Grammy’s House and Head Start in Artesia; Hearts Desire in Lovington; Head Start in Roswell; Head Start in Carlsbad; and Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Southeast New Mexico. For the past two years, every kindergartner in Artesia has received a new bike. More than 2,800 bikes have been provided to children through the generosity of donors and volunteers.
In order to make it a more rewarding experience, the children had to earn their bike. The younger children made Christmas cards for our troops overseas or for the wounded soldiers in the VA Hospitals. The older children did more. One little girl who had long hair showed up to the bike presentation with a short bob. She had given her hair to Locks of Love. All of these children learned a powerful lesson of giving.
The children receiving the bikes are not the only ones that learn lessons and receive gifts through this program. All who are involved walk away with a new sense of happiness, purpose, love and generosity. For the organizers of Ride for Bikes, the fact that the state football championship was on the day scheduled for the bike build was a huge concern. It takes a lot of hands to build 313 bikes, and we feared that many of those would be in Las Cruces. But, as always, the people of Artesia were not going to let the children down. More than a hundred people showed up to build bikes, air up tires and load and deliver bikes. It was a heartwarming sight to see so many families coming together to help children. There were familiar faces and newcomers among the volunteers, all of whom had so much fun that they are definitely coming out to help next year.
Some of the people that showed up were 59 Navajo employees and 16 contractor employees that came out to help with the bikes. The Los Perdonados Motorcycle Club (LPMC) which has many Navajo employees as members manned the Inspection Section, where the bikes are inspected and repaired if needed. This group has been a part of the bike assembly since it started. CAP Logistics, Navajo’s transport contractor, worked hard to get trailers and flat beds onsite to transport the bikes.
The assembled bikes were transported to Grand Heights where Principal Mitzi McCaleb had gathered up a team to unload and display the bikes in the gym. The 313 bikes took up all of the floor space and the stage.
One mother stood in the corner with tears in her eyes. She said that the only thing her daughter had requested for Christmas was a new bike, but the family had not been able to afford one. She was so thankful that her daughter now had her Christmas bike. A new teacher that had transferred to Artesia from another New Mexico school was also teary eyed as she praised Artesia and said she had never heard of such a program anywhere else. On Monday, December 7, the kindergartners were told there was a big surprise waiting for them in the gym. As the children streamed into the gym, their eyes grew large at the sight of 313 bicycles. Many of them asked, “Do I get one?” When told that these bikes were a gift from the community, there were a lot of “wows” from the children.
Ride for Bikes depends on the generosity of the citizens of the Artesia area to continue providing bikes for children. Your donation now will help us continue making Christmas wishes come true and providing the children of Artesia a healthy activity. Please visit our website www.RideForBikes.com to make a contribution online, or mail your check payable to Greater Artesia Foundation with “Ride for Bikes” in the memo to P.O. Box 1344, Artesia, NM 88211-1344. Pictures of this year’s bike build and giveaway will be posted on the website at some point.
It is a good feeling to do good for others. Ride for Bikes would like to thank everyone involved and wishes everyone a Merry Christmas!
Article by Robby Gaines, Project Manager, Holly Frontier Companies - Navajo Refining, LLC and Nancy Stall, Ride for Bikes