A crowd of more than 20 Boys and Girls Club children, with large grins and hands waving in the air, waited excitedly as they saw rows of brand new bicycles form in front of them, knowing they were only minutes away from owning and riding them.
On Wednesday, employees of Chiquita Canyon, which operates a landfill in Castaic, delivered more than 80 bicycles to Santa Clarita Valley children at nonprofits like the Child & Family Center, the Canyon Country Boys and Girls Club and Helping Our Children Santa Clarita.
Employees, with help from their families, assembled the bikes over the weekend before gifting them to children. Each recipient also received a helmet.
This was their 17th consecutive year building and delivering bicycles as part of the annual Christmas Promise Bike Build.
“Kids here have received bikes over the years and it’s always such a fun time of year,” said Matt Nelson, president and CEO of the Boys and Girls Club of SCV. “We have kids that have never had a bike before and this gives them that opportunity.”
Those who have received bikes in the past, thanks to the act of kindness, know the feeling. Brandon Valdez, 11, said he was really excited to see his peers ride a shiny new bike just as he did last year.
“My bike was stolen some time ago but then I got a Mongoose bike that’s red, black and white last year,” he said. “I got really happy when I got the new bike and I think the kids that’ll get one today are going to be just as happy because I know two kids that never had a bike before.”
The annual event is part of a national program to deliver more than 2,000 bikes to organizations across the country during the holiday season.
Chiquita Canyon and other local agencies participate in the nationwide effort by gathering funds to purchase bicycles “to give to the kids that don’t have for Christmas,” Steve Cassulo, district manager at Chiquita Canyon, said as he adjusted the seat of a recipient’s bike.
Last year, the employees at Chiquita Canyon delivered 60 bikes for its 16th consecutive year.