#kindness1billion: More than 130 Tustin third-graders surprised with new bikes

More than 130 new bikesFollowing an essay contest, more than 130 third-graders from Thorman Elementary in the Tustin Unified School District were summoned to the school’s multipurpose room.

Four of their essays were read aloud at the Dec. 9 assembly, and the young authors who penned them were told they had just won brand new black and yellow bikes, along with helmets.

Students celebrating
‘You get a bike! And you get a bike!’ Third-graders at Thorman Elementary had no idea they’d be leaving a school assembly with brand new Huffys after participating in an essay contest. The sleek new rides were donated by the Bikes for Kids Foundation and assembled by community volunteers. (Photos courtesy of John Garrett)

And this would have been a pretty cool holiday story even if ended there. But it didn’t end there.

Representatives from Bikes for Kids, a San Diego-based nonprofit, announced they were giving away four more Huffy bikes because the essays were so good.

Then they pulled back a curtain to display an entire fleet of shiny two-wheelers — more than 100 of them, neatly parked in rows, with tags still attached — and revealed that every third-grader was leaving with a new bike and helmet.

The crowd went wild.

“Bikes for Kids Foundation’s tremendous gift of 133 bikes for Thorman third-graders not only gives many children their first bike, it brings the entire community together,” Principal Deanna Parks said.

In fact, when a lift gate broke on the delivery truck, Tustin Police officers showed up to help offload the bikes in the rain, one at a time, Parks said.

“Community volunteers gave up their Sunday to assemble all the bikes,” she said. “Our students were in shock and so grateful for the generosity of everyone.”

According to its website, the Bikes for Kids Foundation has impacted more than 57,000 economically disadvantaged children since 2002.

The program provides character-building books and lessons at campuses with large percentages of Title 1 students, culminating with an essay assignment. This year, Thorman students had the choice of writing about a time when they used grit to accomplish a goal, or what it means to be a “bucket filler.”