Children living around Lane Field in Akron got a pleasant surprise Sunday: Free bicycles.
Elves & More Northeast Ohio, which makes one unannounced visit each year to give away about 1,000 new bicycles in an Akron neighborhood, descended upon the Lane-Wooster area in donated Con-way Freight tractor-trailers, complete with police car and fire truck escorts.
It didn’t take long for word to spread once the convoy arrived about 10:15 a.m. Hundreds of children quickly turned out to get the Elves & More gifts.
“We create a parade. We make noise,” said Brian Miner, who co-founded the nonprofit volunteer organization with Tim House. “It went really, really well. It took about 2½ hours to give everything away.”
Elves & More Northeast Ohio “adopts” a different Akron neighborhood each year. The group doesn’t announce ahead of time which neighborhood will be getting the free bikes to avoid being inundated by children, Miner said.
About 350 volunteers gathered a week ago and assembled the bikes in just three hours in a warehouse donated by Community Support Services. Volunteer assemblers this year included children from the LeBron James Clubhouse as part of a goal to have recipients of bicycles from the previous year volunteer.
About 60 volunteers handed out the bikes at the Lane Field site.
This was the seventh year for the program. Over that time, about 6,500 bicycles have been given to kids living within the city of Akron, Miner said.
The bikes come from Centerville, Ohio-based manufacturer Huffy, which sells them to Elves & More at the company’s cost, Miner said.
The Akron nonprofit works to raise funds throughout the year to purchase the bikes, he said.
Cycling gifts range from tricycles for the youngest riders to 26-inch cruisers for older children; infants are given toys and blankets, Miner said.
“We have something for everybody,” Miner said.
Jim Mackinnon can be reached at 330-996-3544 or email@example.com