More than 1,000 toys and bikes were distributed to 50 families at the Liberty County Bikes for Christmas event on Saturday at the Dayton Community Center. In addition to the gifts, children were provided with new warm winter coats and all the essentials for a Christmas dinner with their families.
The organization, in its 15th year, was founded by Liberty County EMS Director Mike Koen and David Milam, owner of Milam Tire and Auto in Liberty. This year, Milam’s wife, Cassie, took over coordination of the event, helped by a host of volunteers and supporters.
“So much preparation goes into this event. The only drawback to being the coordinator is not being able to see everything as it’s happening. I think it went well though. Almost every family that was signed up came to the event. Those who didn’t had valid reasons,” Cassie said. “This year was so much better than last year. Instead of just giving them their things, they were treated to a good time with their families.”
Organizers avoided the mad rush of the event by staging times the families should arrive. There was no queuing up in lines to get into the community center. Families simply checked in and walked into Candy Cane Lane,an area organized by Dayton Police Dispatcher Tammy Alexander. Inside Candy Cane Lane were booths for face painting, cookie decorating, balloon gingerbread men and other fun crafts.
“If there were any families this year who had been there before, they probably noticed a big difference and had more fun. We wanted them to feel the warmth of Christmas and people coming together to help them out,” Cassie said.
Every member of the families selected for the program this year received presents.
“One of the most heartbreaking stories of the day was a family who was nominated at the last minute. The mom had four kids, but she didn’t ask for gifts for all of them because she thought it was too much to ask. The only thing they asked for was clothes,” Cassie said. “We were able to help out all of the children by providing them with jackets and presents.”
The event would not have been possible without the support of the following sponsors: Diamond level – PLC Construction, Inc.; Platinum level – Huntsman, TGCI – Houston, Anthony and Stephanie Milam, Liberty Walmart,Walmart Foundation, Charles Jennette, Milam Tire and Auto, and Liberty County EMS.
Community sponsors included Warden Stacey LeBlanc & Staff of TDCJ L.V. Hightower Unit, City of Dayton – Dayton Community Center, Liberty Walmart, Liberty Brookshire Brothers, MCJROTC Bronco Battalion, Casa Don Boni and Awards & Engraving.