There were no big bike and toy giveaways this holiday season for Liberty County Bikes for Christmas. The organization, celebrating its 16th year as a non-profit, took the year off to reorganize, regroup and raise funds.
“We will be back at full steam next year,” said Co-founder David Milam, owner of Milam Tire and Auto in Liberty.
Despite the hiatus, the organization furnished 30 bikes to other entities hosting toy giveaways this year. On Wednesday, Dec. 18, Milam and his wife, Cassie, met with Liberty Walmart Store Manager Barry Jones to pick up the discounted bikes and deliver them to Dayton Fire Department and Hull-Daisetta Fire Department, where toy donations are being arranged to help local children in need.
“We used some of the money we had left from last year and some we collected this year to purchase these bikes,” Milam said. “Even though we aren’t doing our event this year, we want to help others who are having events. We want to make sure that kids who need it receive a bicycle. Regardless of what is going on, it’s not the kids’ fault.”
Over the last 15 years, Liberty County Bikes for Christmas has helped thousands of local children and families by providing food, toys, bikes and clothing. The biggest was a few years ago when the giveaway included 1,500 bikes, 300 tricycles and 10,000 toys, Milam said.
“That was the year we filled up TVE (Trinity Valley Exposition Center) and blocked traffic on Highway 563 and Highway 90,” Milam said. “We saw people who shouldn’t have been in the line at all because they could afford presents, but we knew we had to go through the greedy to get to the needy.”
Milam said the organization also is looking for community-minded people to serve on its board of directors, but anyone who signs up must be committed to the cause and attend meetings. The core board members and advisers are Milam and co-founder Mike Koen with Liberty County EMS, Dayton Community Center Director Amanda Wilson and Cassie Milam.
The organization’s roots were established by Koen and Milam after a number of children’s bikes began to pile up around Milam’s automotive shop. Michelin Tire was offering a free children’s bike with the purchase of four tires. Some customers, who had no children in need of bikes, declined the free bikes leaving Milam to sort out what to do with them.
“Mike Koen came in the shop one day and said, ‘What are you going to do with all those bikes?’ He suggested that we give the bikes to kids in the community and that is how we formed Liberty County Bikes for Christmas.”
The organization is currently working on a new website where requests and donations for next year may be made. More information on Liberty County Bikes for Christmas is also posted on the organization’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/bikesforchristmas.org/