Erie Police Athletic League, Business Owners Teaming up to Donate Bikes to Kids
(ERIE. P.A. - WICU/WSEE/CW) – As he takes out a handful of papers from a box, which sat on the ground, Erie Police Sergeant, Tom Lennox, is holding more than just a stack of stationery.
"It’s awesome,” Lennox said.
On Tuesday afternoon, Lennox was at Iroquois High School to talk with a group of kids from the Erie Lion’s youth track and field team.
The team will soon be able to trade in their running shoes, for a set of bicycle wheels.
“I have something to do instead of just sitting home and playing video games all day," said Joseph Jones.
These kids are just a few of many who take part in the Erie Police Athletic League’s week-long summer program. The program, which is in its third year, connects kids, with law enforcement, to strengthen character, and community relations.
And for the past week, Sergeant Lennox has been going door-to-door, to bring in even more kids, with a goal to provide even more bikes.
"It encourages kids to get out and ride," Lennox said.
The camp had been giving out at least one bike to one kid, but, that all changed with a call.
"A child receiving a new bike is like receiving a new car," said Michael Peterson.
Peterson and his wife, Janelle were Lennox’s first call. Michael owns the Erie-based World Gutter System. Peterson heard the camp had been giving out just the one bike, and wanted that to change.
“[Michael told Lennox] Well, I’ll give you ten bikes," said Janelle.
Peterson says he hoped adding more bikes would incentivize kids to do their best at the camp. The challenge: was adding more bikes.
But then, the Peterson's reached out to other business owners around town.
"He basically took the bull by the horn," Lennox said.
And soon, the number of bike donations started to grow, with at least 35 businesses pledging to donate so far.
"To see the smiles [of the kids], and the people when they talk about it, a lot of passion, from even the businesses, all of them,” said Michael.
But Lennox says, perhaps the best gift, won't even be the bikes themselves.
"The lessons that they're gonna get, by the time they get to Friday [last day of the program], we're hoping is just more than coming to camp for the bicycle.”
With the bikes, kids will be able to sign and write thank you cards to the businesses who donated. Peterson says this will help re-enforce responsibility and manners.
Currently, the Peterson’s are running a GoFundMe page to raise some money, though, they have been accepting checks.