Volunteers, Police Build Bikes for Children in Need

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SACRAMENTO -- Just like pint-sized elves in Santa's workshop, dozens of people are busy preparing holiday gifts.

"We're distributing bikes to at-risk or under-served kids," Gordon Richardson, regional executive director of Uplift Family Services said.

It's the organization's 41-year holiday tradition called "Foster Santa."

They work with dozens of members from the Sacramento Police Department and volunteers from several local bicycle clubs to assemble, tune up and give away more than 300 bikes.

"Some kid's going to love getting this on Christmas. This particular bike is a Snow White bike. I mean, what could be better?" said Sacramento Wheelmen volunteer Fred Turner said.

"At this time of year, the kind of holiday experience that many see on TV doesn't necessarily reflect the day-to-day lives of kids," Richardson said.

Those kids may have incarcerated parents or otherwise would not have any presents under the tree.

Children whose lives have been disrupted often see law enforcement and social services as threats. But these people said building bikes builds new relationships.

"We really want to provide a tangible show that there are adults in communities that care about them," Richardson said.

"Gain the trust in the trying. The fact that a lot of these kids are going to be receiving these bicycles because they were identified by a Sacramento Police officer, is just awesome," Lt. Roman Murietta of the Sacramento Police Department said.

The Sacramento Police Department believes it does not matter what rank you are, as long as you engage with the community in a kind and caring way.

"We have our interim chief, Brian Louie, working here alongside the trainees, who have not been in the academy yet. Because that's the kind of character that we want to hire."

They hope to bring smiles to the kids getting their brand new bikes.

"You have a bicycle, it gives you a lot of freedom. It's just a way to get out on your own, and just have fun," Turner said.

Once the assembly is finished, Uplift Family Services and Sacramento Police Department will spend the next 10 days distributing the bikes and helmets to pre-selected families.