Christmas spirit, on two wheels

Cemstone Concrete workers build Bikes for Tykes

-Messenger photo by Joe Sutter
Rocky Davis, left, and Randy Buenting put together a bike during the Bikes for Tykes project Saturday morning at Cemstone Concrete. Buenting said the company has been taking part in the program for seven years now, and donated 67 bikes this year.

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.”

-Submitted photo
Bikes for Tykes are displayed at Cemstone Cement after employees and their families spent Saturday morning assembling them for donation to less fortunate families. There were 67 bikes donated from the company, which were taken to Fort Dodge Ford Toyota where between 250 and 350 are currently stored.

“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.

-Messenger photo by Joe Sutter
Sabrina Murry puts together the doll seat on a Disney "Frozen" bicycle, framed by a nearly-completed one. Murry said it was fun to help out with the Christmas project and spend time with her father Mark Murry, left.

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.”

-Messenger photo by Joe Sutter
Many "elves" make light work. Cole Bush, left, and Verlyn Richardson make it sort of a competition to see how quickly they can assemble bicycles, while helping out family at Cemstone Concrete's Bikes for Tykes assembly day Saturday morning.

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.”