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New wheels under the tree

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Matt Johnson, who helps coordinate the Bikes For Tykes program, shows off some of the new bikes that have already been dropped off in the Fort Dodge Ford Lincoln Toyota showroom. The drive will be accepting bike, bike safety gear and cash donations until Dec. 13.

Not every family can afford to put a new bike under the tree for their child to ride on.

That situation is where the annual Bikes For Tykes program comes in.

Matt Johnson, general manager of Fort Dodge Ford Lincoln Toyota, helps coordinate the program, a joint venture with Alpha Media.

“We’re collecting new bikes for the less fortunate that may never have had a bike or another gift under the tree,” he said.

While the bikes are collected, Upper Des Moines Opportunity helps out by identifying the families in need who will receive the bikes.

The collection point for bikes is the dealership at 2723 Fifth Ave. S. Donations will be accepted until Dec. 13.

For those who may not be able to purchase a bike, they are also accepting cash donations as well as new helmets and other protective riding gear.

The cash donations allow for the program buying bikes tailored to the child who will receive it.

“Once all the money is collected we’ll find out the need and buy the bikes,” Johnson said.

The program sends a positive ripple out into the community.

“We had a 7-year-old boy that received a bike,” Johnson said. “For the next year, he saved all his money to save up to a buy a bike for another child.”

Johnson said the program is an excellent opportunity for individuals, service groups and employees of local businesses to help.

“We have a lot of companies where the employees all pitch in,” he said.