Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station Deputy Brian Rooney helps deliver school lunches to children in Val Verde, but earlier this month he had the chance to do a little more for a local child.
Children in the Val Verde area who are part of the Sheriff’s Foundation Youth Activity League, which Rooney oversees, don’t all have transportation to Castaic Middle or Northlake Hills Elementary schools to access school lunches.
In an effort to help make distribution easier, especially amid the coronavirus outbreak, Rooney and YAL volunteers set out to deliver lunches at nearby neighborhoods.
That’s when Rooney noticed 7-year-old Angel.
“There’s one boy, always says, ‘Hi,’ and I see all these kids on their bikes except him,” said Rooney. “And I ask him, ‘Hey, why aren’t you riding a bike?’ and he says, ‘My bike’s broken.’”
Rooney asked the boy to show him his bike and he brought it to the deputy.
“It was really beaten up. The seat was messed up; the pedals were messed up. There were no grips. It was old and it was already too small for the boy.”
As part of a program that fixes bicycles, Rooney searched for parts in an attempt to recover the bike, “but we didn’t have all the parts.”
What the program did have was a brand new bicycle YAL was saving to raffle off as part of an upcoming, annual event that was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“So, I just took it out there and gave it to him,” said Rooney, who also handed Angel a brand new helmet. It wasn’t a free send-off, however. The deputy asked the boy a couple of history questions, to which the boy answered correctly.
“He’s in second grade; he’s a little guy with a cool little smile. He was all happy,” said Rooney. “A lot of these families and parents are working what was deemed nonessential (businesses) and are out of jobs. So, bringing these lunches are a huge deal for many. I think the bike was just excitement for the kid and now he can ride along and have fun and be outdoors in the fresh air and not have to sit in his room all day.”
Rooney’s encounter with Angel came just before he and other YAL volunteers delivered Easter baskets to the front doors of children in the program as their annual Easter egg hunt was canceled because of the coronavirus outbreak.