Bikes Needed to Brighten Christmas for Children and Provide Job - WFXG FOX54 Augusta - Your News One Hour Earlier

Bikes Needed to Brighten Christmas for Children and Provide Job Training

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AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) -

Master Buick GMC, Master Chevrolet Cadillac, Andy Jordan's Bicycle Warehouse, Goodwill Industries, and Safe Kids East Central are teaming up once again for "Santa Wheels." This initiative provides deserving children in the CSRA with the gift of a bicycle and a helmet for Christmas.

This partnership also supports job training for Goodwill Industries' trainees who are seeking to enter the workforce. Six trainees in Goodwill's WORKing Solutions, a program  serving individuals who are homeless, have been earning a paycheck while refurbishing bikes since October and have learned valuable job skills from volunteer mentors while repairing and reconditioning donated bicycles.  The bicycles will be given to the children at the "bike rodeo" on December 13th at 5 p.m.  at Master Buick GMC on Washington Road.

More children's bikes are needed, as there are currently more applications on file than Santa Wheels can fill.  Goodwill is asking the community to please deliver bikes to Master Buick GMC on Washington Road!

Children are selected via an application process conducted by Goodwill's Job Connections, the job training and placement arm for Goodwill Industries. Many children who will receive bikes have parents enrolled in Goodwill's programs. Santa Wheels hopes to be able to refurbish and give away over 150 bikes to deserving children this year.

Jim Stiff, CEO and President of our local Goodwill Industries said "We are fortunate to have businesses like Master Buick GMC and Andy Jordon's Bicycle Warehouse who are committed to invest in our community. When Master Buick GMC called and offered to help Goodwill trainees learn valuable job skills by mentoring them to refurbish the donated bikes, we were thrilled. We are very eager to help people who are unemployed land a job before Christmas and to help deserving children get a bike for Christmas." Safe Kids East Central will donate a helmet and safety skills training to all who receive a refurbished bike for Christmas. 

History of Santa Wheels:

More than 11 years and thousands of volunteer hours ago, Santa Wheels was the idea of George Sleister, the General Manager of Master Automotive car dealership in Augusta, GA.  George saw many quality bicycles being dumped in the trash and envisioned a project that would recondition these discarded bikes and distribute them to deserving children.  He and the dealership took on the task of reconditioning bicycles and in those early years, he himself delivered them to children's homes. The task soon overwhelmed the dealership staff and was discontinued for a time.

 In 2006 the concept was revisited and the dealership sought community partnerships to coordinate the effort and reach more children.  In order to meet the mounting requests for bicycles from community members, hundreds of volunteers were needed each year to assist in bicycle donation drives, cleaning, repair, and distribution processes.  Though George retired from Master Buick, he remains an active volunteer to lead Santa Wheels to fruition and success each year.

Since 2007, Goodwill has been pleased to render two important ingredients to ensure the success of Santa Wheels:

 Provide labor for the bicycle repairs by utilizing job-training veterans and clients in the WORKing Solutions program.
Goodwill pays these clients to revamp the bikes 4 days per week with one day set aside for job search training and advisement at South Augusta's One Stop Career Center. Clients receive valuable on-the-job training while giving back to their community.

Spearhead volunteer efforts.  Goodwill provides volunteer recruitment and management for Santa Wheels. 
Volunteerism has been at the core of the program from the beginning and continues to be a critical factor in its success.  In addition to the Goodwill clients that now earn a paycheck while giving back to THEIR community and learning valuable job skills, Goodwill also brought to the program the much-needed volunteer support.  

Goodwill is currently recruiting volunteers to serve in many areas of the organization. Goodwill asks families and individuals seeking a meaningful volunteer experience to call Amy Breitmann, Volunteer Services Manager, for more information:  706.564.4521 or 706.650.5760.

About Goodwill
Over the past year, Goodwill Industries of Middle Georgia and the CSRA has placed 2,781 people into jobs and offered career development services to over 15,000 individuals.  Over the past five years, Goodwill Industries of Middle Georgia and the CSRA has placed 9,836 people in jobs, creating more than $287 million in estimated annual economic impact.

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