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Littles ride off with smiles on faces

By RANDY GONZALES

rgonzales@dailynews.net

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ellis County had a bigger order to fill than normal for bicycles for local children who wanted them for Christmas.

Everybody pitched in, and 23 kids came away with smiles on their faces and bikes in tow Tuesday afternoon at the BBBS office, 1301 Pine.

After the BBBS telethon -- which wrapped its ninth year earlier this month -- bikes built there later are given away for Christmas.

"Each year, it's been around seven bikes," said Nancy Jeter, executive director of Ellis County's BBBS. "This year, we were amazed that we had so many kids that their parents requested that they get a bike for Christmas if at all possible.

"We were able to furnish a bike for every kid that needed one this year."

Walmart supplied seven bikes to build at the telethon, then later provided two more bikes when they were needed.

"We had a mother who had worked very hard to buy her daughters bikes for Christmas, and they were stolen," Jeter said. "She called to see if it was too late to get a bike for her daughters, and Walmart provided those two bikes."

The Norton Correctional Facility has a project in which bikes are refurbished, and 13 were donated to BBBS this year. In addition, Alpha Delta Kappa sorority donated a bike.

"We were just amazed the need was so great this year," Jeter said.

One mother, January, came by with her son, Alex, 8, and her daughter, Hannah, 7, to pick up their bikes.

"They got bikes at home, but they're all getting too small," she said. "We pass them on to cousins when they get too small.

"They've been waiting and waiting. We told them we'll get them some at tax time -- they're getting them earlier."

Alex was ready to ride his bike.

"If my mom lets me," he said.

No problem there, as kids took a spin around the BBBS parking lot before heading home.

Celia was another mother whose child was given a new bike. Arthur, 5, had a shiny, green bike he could call his own.

Arthur said he is looking forward to Christmas, where he will receive "many presents."

His mom thinks one of the best presents would be for her son to find a Big Brother.

"I have been on the waiting list hoping to get a Big Brother for him," she said. "I'm really hoping many people get more active.

"I know there are a lot of children out there waiting for Big Brothers."

Celia appreciates her son receiving a bike for Christmas, but she said it would be even nicer for Arthur to have a Big Brother.

"He has been at least nine months waiting," she said.