On Your Side: Santa Wheels

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News 12 at 6, December 5, 2007

AUGUSTA -- A program designed to get bicycles for underprivileged kids for Christmas is also helping some other folks on the road to recovery.

By donating a bicycle to Santa Wheels, you're not only giving a bike to a child who might not get one otherwise. You're also giving the opportunity of a lifetime to a person you might not expect: a homeless veteran.

Meet Santa Wheels Worker Christopher Miller. "Right now, I'm in a homeless program at the VA."

He's learning to put bikes back together. And in doing so, he's working to get his own life back together.

"Since I served my country, it's been a while since I've done something that made me feel good about myself," Miller said.

Christopher and his co-workers are in a program called Santa Wheels at Goodwill Industries. They're repairing bikes and fulfilling dreams.

Many bikes and trikes will be Christmas presents for underprivileged kids who can't afford them.

"We make it safe by tightening the bolts and we try to put a good shine on it," Miller added.

The bikes are donated in all shapes, sizes and conditions. Christopher and his co-workers learn to make them like new again.

"This is how they come out, replace the seat. It's got new grips, paint, new tires. The brakes work and the pedals work," said Master Pontiac Buick GMC Employee Russell Reams.

It's something that teaches the workers job skills that will help them get back in the working world. And, it gives them the satisfaction of a job well done.

"It's a joy to me; makes me feel real good," Christopher said.

Now, he knows that more than a hundred kids will have a Christmas this year because of his hard work.

And, it's that hard work that will hopefully pay off in a new lease on life for him.

"Since I've been in Augusta, I've had people reach out and help me. So when the time came to give back, I didn't mind doing it," he said.

You can donate your old bikes at Andy Jordan's Bicycle Warehouse or Master Pontiac Buick GMC. Both are big sponsors of this program providing money, parts and helmets for it.

You can contact David Cantrell (706) 564-9937 for more information on the Santa Wheels program. You can also send an email to info@santawheels.com or you can visit http://www.santawheels.com.

Santa Wheels isn't the only program that helps out with getting children bicycles during the holidays.

The Augusta State Medical Prison also holds a bicycle drive that's in conjunction with the Marine Corps' Toys for Tots. If you want to donate a bike to the prison, all you need to do is call Sharon Davis at the Medical Prison at 706-855-4781. That drive will run until the end of next week.

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