Strong effort: NFL player, a Cleveland HS grad, provides 50 bikes for Share Your Christmas event

Share Your Christmas is in its 31st year. This year 500 children were assistance with presents for Christmas through the organization founded by Dinah Cochran.

Christmas came a few days early for 500 children in the Cleveland area with Share Your Christmas’ 31st annual toy giveaway on Saturday, Dec. 17, held at Douglass Gym in Cleveland.

A highlight of this year’s event was the donation of 50 bikes from Tennessee Titan Kevin Strong, a 2014 graduate of Cleveland High School. Strong’s mother, Tanisha, and son, Cannon, were on hand to watch as the bikes were distributed to deserving children in the community. Kevin was unable to make it to the event as he was traveling to the Los Angeles to play the Chargers on Sunday.

Tanisha said her son loves his hometown, spends every summer in Cleveland, and simply wants to bless others.

Tennessee Titan Kevin Strong donated 50 bikes to Share Your Christmas this year. Strong, a 2014 graduate of Cleveland High School, wanted to give back to his hometown of Cleveland. (Photo courtesy of Kevin Strong)

“He thinks it’s important to give back to the community in any way he can. He has been so blessed in his life, so he wants to bless other people, too,” she said. “I am very proud of him for continuing to be a humble man.”

The donation came at the right time for Dinah Cochran, the founder of Share Your Christmas, who was struggling to come up with enough items for the 500 children signed up for assistance this year.

“We had people this year that I have never seen or heard from before. They were calling every day even after the deadline passed. There is a lot of need this year. I had to get on the phone and start calling people to see if I could find more donations,” Cochran said.

She received her biggest financial boosts from a Christmas tree farm located on FM 1725, Tammy and John Hart of Hart’s RV and Boat Storage of Splendora, Liberty County District Attorney Jennifer Bergman and Pct. 6 Constable Zack Harkness.

“Nearly everything else came from my family. I have cousins who send me checks every year for this event,” she said.

All of the shopping was done by Cochran, who then packaged and labeled the bags of toys for distribution. While Christmas might fall on one day a year, Cochran works for months leading up these events, buying and storing items. The children who receive toys do not provide a wish list; instead Cochran, a mother of five children, relies on the advice of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren when selecting gifts.

“I go by their ages and I know what to give children just from being a mom and knowing what kids like,” she said.

Of the 500 children who were signed up, only 15 failed to show up for the event. However, other families who had been unable to sign up for assistance were invited to the event in case there were presents available for their families.

“We had one man who waited more than two hours today to see if he could get gifts for his children. He waited until the very end and he ended up going home with two bikes,” Cochran said. “He was very happy to be able to provide Christmas gifts for his children.”

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