United Way partners up to give away bikes, books and backpacks
It almost felt like Christmas in July, except it happened in August.
Twenty happy children received 20 bicycles and 20 backpacks, complete with books and other items at the 3B’s (backpacks, bikes and books) Distribution summer event held Monday at United Way’s new offices in downtown Bakersfield.
The event came about through a collaborative effort between United Way of Kern County, Cummins and Stay Focused Ministries with the goal of distributing back-to-school resources to 20 students.
“Cummins is one of our big donors … and this year they decided to give us a 20-bike donation,” said United Way of Kern County President and CEO Mari Pérez-Dowling.
With most schools in Kern County beginning instruction Wednesday, United Way decided to add an educational component by including books and backpacks to the event. And all bicycles came with a helmet and a lock.
But how would they select the children in need?
“We have partnered with Stay Focused Ministries on other projects in the community,” Pérez-Dowling said. “They have children I think from ages 8 to 18 that they work with, so they selected 20 families in need — and those are the families that came today.”
As the families gathered on the building’s third floor, United Way Marketing Manager Gabriel Adame spoke about the nonprofit’s three pillars: education, health and financial stability.
“We know we can do more things when we collaborate with other organizations,” Adame told the group of children and adults.
But the ultimate goal, he said, is helping people in the community.
After the children were united with their new bikes, bicycle gear and backpacks, the families wheeled them to a freight elevator where groups of students and parents were able to get their new wheels down to the parking lot.
“I like the new bike. It’s cool,” said 12-year-old Kevin Resendiz as he waited for the elevator. Kevin is heading into the seventh grade at Sierra Middle School starting Wednesday.
Raul Torres was there with his grandsons, Noah Perez, 9, and Josiah Rocha, 17, as the younger grandson held onto his new bike.
“Josiah has been attending Stay Focused for three or four years, and he’s taken advantage of the mentoring program they have there,” Torres said.
“It helps keep them focused on what matters, on what’s important,” the grandfather said of the mentoring effort.
Young people in the program, he said, also find out that there are families with greater needs than their own.