Rotary bike giveaway spreads the love of giving

In what has become a seasonal labor of love for the Rotary Club of Claremont, more than 30 bicycles were given away Saturday to local kids in need of their first bike during a special event at Claremont Presbyterian Church.

Now known as Bill’s Bikes for Kids Giveaway, each year before Christmas, Claremont Rotary purchases the unassembled bikes, helmets and other items for bike care. Each kit costs about $150. Volunteers from the Claremont High School and El Roble Interact clubs assembled the bikes the week prior to the big handout on December 17.

The giveaway event includes a master of ceremonies, plenty of corny knock-knock jokes, food and drink, a bike safety presentation, and more. With CUSD Board of Education and Claremont City Council members in attendance, each student is called to the stage to receive their bike as the audience applauds.

For many recipients, it was their first time on a bicycle, and it showed as they slowly and carefully made their maiden rides with a family member guiding them. It was clearly a rite of passage for many of these families.

The good vibes were palpable as the event unfolded, both for the families who received new bicycles, and for the Rotarians and Interact members who worked hard to make the giveaway a reality.

A little history

The Rotary Club of Claremont supports programs for young people, and Bill’s Bikes for Kids is one of its most successful continuing programs, now in its 22nd year! The program started in the garage of then Rotary Club president Bill Gruber, where members restored used bikes. It has now grown to where students are given new bikes, helmets and locks, while receiving safety instruction from an experienced bicyclist.

Bikes for Kids has become one Rotary’s most popular and beloved youth programs. The event was honored with the presence of Lois Gruber, the widow of Bill Gruber, the founder of Bikes for Kids, and their son Scott and his wife Trisha. The event was also attended by school principals, Superintendent and Rotarian Jim Elsasser, city council members Sal Medina and Cory Calaycay.

The purchase of these bikes was made possible by donations from Claremont Rotarians, the Claremont Senior Bike group and citizens from the local community, including a generous gift from the Economy Shop.

 

First-grader Abigail Insaurralde, 6, was all smiles after hearing her name to come up to the stage to pick up her new bike.

 

Own Recinos, an 8-year-old second grader from Sumner Danbury Elementary, needed a little help from friends and family to get on, and stay on, his new 20-inch bicycle.

 

Mountain View Elementary third-grader Eveylyn Baltazar-Santamaria, 9, tried to focus and stay calm as she trained to ride and take care of her new bicycle.

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