Christmas spirit, on two wheels
Cemstone Concrete workers build Bikes for Tykes
Workers at Cemstone Concrete Materials were mixing up a special holiday treat for area boys and girls Saturday morning.
About 12 workers and some family members showed up at 6 a.m., grabbed a slice of breakfast pizza, and got to work putting together children’s bikes for the annual Bikes for Tykes giveaway.
The bikes were taken that afternoon to Fort Dodge Ford Lincoln Toyota, where they were stored with hundreds of other donated two-wheelers from businesses and individuals across the county which will be given away by Upper Des Moines Opportunity and Operation Christmas.
Randy Buenting, a driver with Cemstone, has been doing this project since the company started it seven years ago, and he said the company has always been supportive.
“Our first year we got about five bikes and a trike,” Buenting said. “In the last three years we’ve had 50-plus bikes. This year it’s the most, with 67.”
“Our biggest goal was to try to better each year’s amount,” Buenting added. “Not in my wildest dreams did I think we would get this many. A lot of kids are going to be happy.”
That’s important, said Clint Besaw, plant manager in Sac City.
“I know how it felt as a child to not have a bike,” Besaw said. “I like to help kids. I have an 8-year-old boy at home.”
The workers joined the program back when this plant was American Concrete, and Cemstone has continued the tradition, said Plant Manager Brad Menke.
“Every year we just get more and more,” Menke said.
Regional Manager Gary Williams said this is his first time taking part in the tradition.
He was impressed how quickly the group could get bikes together.
“When he said we had 67 bikes, I thought we would be here all day,” Williams said. “I have five kids, and I got them all bikes one year … I had to start two weeks early putting them together.”
The gifts will lead to a lot of Christmas morning excitement, he said.
“First they wanted to ride the bike in the house,” he said. “And when I said no, they wanted to ride outside in the ice and snow. But they love it.”
The company has donated more than $2,000 to the project, Williams said, and the drivers have matched that amount.
Verlyn Richardson and Cole Bush were making quick work of their assembly jobs.
“It’s not hard. It takes maybe 10 minutes to put together a bike,” Richardson said. “We made it a competition.”
Getting all those bikes ready takes some coordination.
“We’ve had to plan ahead ever since we started getting more than 20 bikes,” Buenting said. “We go up to Walmart about a week in advance with an estimate of how much money we have.
“We have four pallets full of bikes this year — a whole trailer full,” he added. “Then we’ll take a whole convoy up to Fort Dodge Ford.”
Walmart also has been wonderful to work with, Buenting said, with its managers providing the Cemstone volunteers with a great discount.
Cemstone’s 67 bikes weren’t the only ones put together Saturday. Fort Dodge Ford Sales Manager Tracy Ernst said about 150 were dropped off that day.
That brings the total to something like 250 to 350 bicycles at the dealership, not counting more stored elsewhere, Ernst said.
“We’ve had a lot of good participation,” he said, “and we are looking for more bikes yet.”