Bikes for Tykes in full swing

Area agencies, businesses ring in season of giving

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson Matt Johnson, general manager of Fort Dodge Ford Lincoln Toyota, left, and Abigail Johnson, digital relations manager, pose next to bikes in the showroom in Fort Dodge recently. The bikes will be donated to kids in Webster, Wright, Hamilton and Humboldt counties for Christmas.

Children in need of a new set of wheels will have a chance to ride in style this Christmas thanks to Bikes for Tykes, a program that has delivered more than 2,500 bicycles to area kids since it began in 2010.

Bikes for Tykes is a partnership between Fort Dodge Ford Lincoln Toyota and Alpha Media.

The goal of the program is to deliver bikes to children in need throughout Webster, Wright, Hamilton and Humboldt counties.

Matt Johnson, general manager of Fort Dodge Ford, said the program started as a way to make a difference in the lives of children.

“It’s sad to think that a child may not have a Christmas gift and some children have never had a bicycle,” Johnson said. “So really the idea was to brighten a child’s Christmas.”

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson Matt Johnson, general manager of Fort Dodge Ford Lincoln Toyota, organizes a group of bikes in the showroom at Fort Dodge Ford recently. Through the program Bikes for Tykes, the bikes will be donated to kids in Webster, Wright, Hamilton and Humboldt counties for Christmas.

Every year Fort Dodge Ford collects about 400 bicycles from various donors, Johnson said.

Fort Dodge Ford will be accepting bikes until Dec. 12.

All the bikes received will be on display in the showroom at Fort Dodge Ford until they are given away.

The giveaway will begin on Dec. 13.

Johnson said he is amazed at the donations that come pouring in from people, local businesses and organizations.

-Messenger photo by Chad Thompson Dozens of people, businesses and organizations donate to Bikes for Tykes every year, according to Matt Johnson, general manager of Fort Dodge Ford Lincoln Toyota.

“We are so fortunate that our community is so giving,” Johnson said. “I am just always amazed and blown away at the generosity of people in our community. I think that’s the most meaningful thing.”

“We play a very small part in that and we are just very proud of our community and how they rally around a cause, especially when children are involved,” he added.

Abigail Johnson, digital relations manager, said it’s the reactions of the kids that she appreciates the most.

“That’s one of my favorite things to see,” she said. “I just think it’s cool because you can see the impact it had on that child.”

She also said seeing past recipients come back to help get a bike for someone else is special.

“A lot of times those kids are as excited to donate a bike as the one in the showroom who is receiving one,” she said. “It’s really cool to see the excitement on their face that they are doing good for others.”

Matt Johnson said the program also has meaning for families who have lost a loved one.

“There is a family that comes in and donates a bicycle to remember their daughter,” he said. “Unfortunately their daughter is not with us anymore, but they want to keep her memory alive and they do that by donating bicycles to help another family.”

“They have been doing it year after year,” he said. “It’s a tribute to her life and to keep her memory alive. Those are the things that make us thankful to have loved ones around us and try to keep those that are no longer with us alive in memory and spirit.”

Matt Johnson said donations are also accepted to provide safety equipment for the bikes.

“Some people will just make monetary donations and the need will be matched in the different communities,” he said. “Some people prefer to write checks. Some people donate for bike safety, such as helmets and elbow pads. We want children to be safe and to promote safe biking.”

“No matter what it is, everything is appreciated,” he added. “It could be a dollar, but those donations will go towards another bike or safety equipment.”

The giveaway is done through Operation Christmas and Upper Des Moines Opportunity, according to Matt Johnson.

“Those organizations, based on need, will deliver them,” he said.

Many of the local kids will pick up their bikes at the Fort Dodge Ford showroom.

“It’s full of bikes in here,” Abigail Johnson said. “It’s so much fun. The week before is when a lot of people drop them off.”

Abigail Johnson said when the bikes are given away, the showroom is the place to be.

“I just absolutely love being in the showroom when children are here receiving the bikes,” she said. “It’s neat to see that come full circle, both giving and receiving a bike. Especially teaching children at a young age the importance of giving and helping others.”


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