An old bicycle might not look like much to some. But with a can of WD-40, new reflectors and some TLC, there's no price on the joy a bike can bring to a child.
Case in point -- on Wednesday the Livingston Police Department donated more than 25 used bikes to local churches. Each church will distribute the bikes to needy children in their area.
Police said the bikes had been accumulating at the department for quite some time. Most of the bikes had been found by officers during the course of their regular duties. Public Service Office John Mucci said the owner of each bike was notified and given a year to reclaim it from the department.
Rather than let the bikes sit and collect rust, Chief Douglas Dunford decided to donate the bikes to churches in the community. "I feel this is a great opportunity for the city to reach out to the children of our community with the help of various churches that are here today," Dunford said in a statement. "We hope to continue working with church officials on outreach programs for the youth of Livingston.
Representatives from Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, Emmanuel Baptist Church, St. Jude Catholic Church and Faith Word Ministries were on-hand Wednesday to receive the bikes. "A lot of our kids in the community don't have money to get a bike," said Michael Outten, pastor of Faith Word Ministries. "I think it's good for the community to outreach and let the kids know that we care about them."
Pastor Bill Ruth of Our Redeemer Lutheran Church said his church will also stress bicycle safety to families after distributing the bikes. Ruth said he was "ecstatic" after police offered the bikes to his church. "This opens up a whole new horizon for us," Ruth said.
Under state law, the bikes' owners had 90 days to collect their property.
The police department also provided helmets with each bike. The helmets were purchased with funds left over from the department's bike safety rodeo.
Mucci said he's hopeful the bike giveaway will become an annual event.
Reporter Victor A. Patton can be reached at (209) 385-2431 or firstname.lastname@example.org.