News / Articles
Sheriff's Office and Bike Clubs Hold Annual Drive
Lt. Robert Siemer always appreciates the generosity of Villagers at this time of the year.
Siemer, Villages district supervisor for the Sumter County Sheriff's Office, said he couldn't believe the support for the SCSO's annual bicycle collection, which was held Friday at Lake Miona Recreation Center.
"I'm absolutely overwhelmed to see all the people that came together to help us today." Siemer said. "I think this is the most we've had in terms of volunteers helping us. It is fantastic to see."
The even is held in coordination with the bicycle clubs in The Villages, with members of the Sumter Landing Bicycle Club, the Villages Bicycle Club, and the PANTHERS Tandem Club on hand to help out cleaning and making needed repairs to donated bikes.
SCSO collects bicycles all year and provides them to children in need, as well as working adults with no transportation. The children's bicycles are distributed during community parties held throughout the county.
Siemer said he was pleased to see an increase in the number of children's bikes donated this year.
"The big thing is we've seen a huge number of smaller bikes for the younger kids," he said. "We've gotten more brand-new children's bikes than any other year we've done this. People have been going to the stores to buy brand-new bikes to donate. It's great to see because this year we have a bigger need than ever for these bikes."
Dave Lawrence, director of safety for the SLBC who coordinates the volunteers for the mechanical repairs, said the collection is always a highlight of the year.
"Personally, I get a lot of satisfaction knowing we're helping so many kids," said Lawrence, of the Village of Largo.
Lawrence said SLBC members made an effort to bring in more children's bikes.
"Our focus changed a little this year," Lawrence said. "We started leaning toward encouraging donations of children's bikes. If you take a look, we've got a ton of kids bikes. And after all these are meant to be Christmas gifts."
John Alumbaugh, of the Village of Caroline, works in a bike shop part tie up north during the summers and spent most of the morning building children's bikes. He said the program is a worthwhile endeavor.
"I have enjoyed being a part of this program for a number of years," he said. "I'm a retired educator, and there's noting like giving a kid a bike to give them a chance to open up their world a little bit more."
Alumbaugh said it's rewarding to fix a bike that will get use from somebody else rather than see it get thrown away.
"There's somebody here who can do just about any kind fo repair necessary," Alumbaugh said. "But I've noticed this year most of the bikes that have been donated are in better shape than some of the ones I've seen in other years. For example, this bike here needed the gears adjusted, the brakes set, and everything tightened up, and it will be good to go."
Lawrence said he appreciates being able to assist with program each year.
"This is the Sheriff's program," Lawrence said. "We do this to help them. We appreciate the extra services they provide that go above and beyond. We are very fortunate to live in The Villages and I think it's incumbent upon us to help them out a little bit. SO this is one small way we can do that."