By MJ Tune, 12
For several years now, Union’s Career Connect automotive and manufacturing interns have put on the Bikes For Kids charity event to provide free bikes and helmets to Union elementary students. Through this project, the Career Connect students bring a little Christmas joy to children with families who cannot afford to buy a bike right now. Bikes For Kids is all about holiday spirit and the satisfaction of giving children a Christmas they will never forget. Children in Union elementary schools will soon be surprised with new bikes to ride throughout their spring and summer breaks. Union High School’s Career Connect Program partners each year with the City of Tulsa, City Cycles in Jenks, the Union Schools Education Foundation, and AAON Manufacturing to bring these kids bikes as a well-deserved Christmas present.
Starting around the first of November, Union High school students worked tirelessly for hours to collect gently used bikes from the Tulsa community and make sure these bikes were ready for Union elementary students. A total of 75 bikes were donated to Bikes For Kids. Union elementary officials then figured out which kids could use some more holiday cheer and emailed the high school, explaining what students needed the bikes, and what gender they were.
After the bikes were collected, the high school students started to check the condition of the bikes. On December 1st, they met to begin fixing and refurbishing everything they could. Several different stations were created, where students would check the condition of the bike (including the tires and tire pressure, gears, and chains) and see what they needed to do to get the bikes back in safe working condition. They then dissembled the bikes and washed them.
After this, volunteers from art classes hand-painted the bikes then gave them back to the next station to be put back together. The art students spent hours painting bikes with bright colors and themes, such as galaxies, candy canes, and even created a pink candy-themed bike. Using only spray paint and acrylic, these talented artists spent their time making these bikes look new and mesmerizing for young children.
Once the bikes received their new sparkle, Career Connect interns in the Early Childhood and Future Educators programs took them away and tagged them for the others to know what age and gender each bike was suited for. They also crafted small Christmas cards to help bring these kids more joy. The now refurbished bikes had bows put on them and before they are delivered, Union High School staff will check each bike and its size to see which bike goes to which school and student. Next week, a group of students will deliver the bikes to the schools that asked for them.
These children will have their new surprises waiting for them on December 14th, just in time for Christmas break. Selected elementary students will finally get bikes that look and work like they are completely new. For hours, Career Connect students gave up their school time to help bring some Christmas joy. Their love and devotion are what made these gifts special, and their hard work will never be forgotten by the families of the students who received the bikes.