The Palm Beach Post, Monday, December 19, 2016

Annual event in West Palm Beach benefits underprivileged kids.

Kids collect their bicycles Sunday during the annual Christmas bike giveaway put on by Jack the Bike
Man’s Children’s Bicycle Charity in West Palm Beach.

By Corvaya Jeffries

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Cinco. Seis. Siete.
Jack “the Bike Man” Hairston counted out as he handed tickets to mothers in front of his bike shop. The numbers they were giving him? The number of children they had who didn’t have bikes. “Well, hello, welcome to my little party,” Hairston said with a big smile. “Little” was an understatement. Lucilda, 14, sat on the edge of a concrete ramp for hours until she got her bike. She was somewhere in a line of 65 people at 5:15 a.m. and at least 150 just 15 minutes later. While the “party” was scheduled to start at 9 a.m., children like Lucilda and their families stood on Florida Avenue before daylight to get a ticket they would later exchange for a reconditioned bike.

More than 900 donated bikes were repaired and finally given away on Sunday morning. Many of those receiving bikes are referred to Hairston’s charity by local churches, social service agencies and nonprofit groups. Among those who helped repair those bikes was Joel Solis, a 22-year-old Hairston met a decade ago. “I noticed when I would go to his house,” Hairston said of Solis, “he’d always be sitting on the couch playing video games, so I told him he needed to come to the shop and volunteer.  He’s learned a lot since then and is a happy kid.” Solis now is a full-time employee. He said he feels rewarded when he sees his bikes roll out of the shop.  “It’s simple: seeing the kids smile when they get their first bike,” he said when asked to name the most rewarding part of working for Jack the Bike Man.

Jack the Bike Man’s shop is located at 2406 Florida Ave. in West Palm Beach; tel. 561-832-0072.

Anale Gonzales, 7, of West Palm Beach takes a first ride on her new bicycle during Sunday’s Christmas bike giveaway.

Roxana Mendoza, 5, of West Palm Beach is obviously pleased with her new ride Sunday. Volunteer Joel Solis said seeing the smiles on young faces is the most rewarding part of his work on the charity operation