News: Bringing holiday cheer, one bike at a time
Story by Sgt. Lauren Twigg
PHOENIX - Soldiers from the 2-285th Aviation Battalion of the Arizona Army National Guard participated in the 30th annual “Bicycles for Kids” in Phoenix, Dec. 8.
The Guard members provided a Black Hawk helicopter and a couple of Army trucks for display, as well as helped present the surprise of the bicycle gifts to the children and handing them out.
Phoenix resident Jimmy Walker, founder of the event, invited the soldiers to come out and participate alongside the Phoenix police and fire departments and put on a memorable holiday event for less-fortunate families in the community.
“It’s great to see the soldiers out here supporting us, bringing the Black Hawk out here and the Hummers, the kids love it,” Walker said. “Our military out here showing their support for this community is a great way to celebrate this event.”
For the soldiers, it is more than just a mission, as Maj. Tim Woods, officer in charge of this assignment from the 2-285th Aviation Battalion, expressed his compassion and the care that of his soldiers who helped made sure the children had fun.
“There’s nothing better than this,” Woods said. “I was born and raised here in Phoenix, and to be able to get out to the community and show our support as Guard members for our state – especially during the holidays. It’s a great feeling and we are happy to be a part of it.”
What started out as something in Walker’s backyard 30 years ago turned into a full-on event catered by St. Mary’s Food Bank, where guests walk away with a turkey for Christmas dinner, and children receive several gifts from Santa – as well as a brand new bike.
“My family and I decided to start this 30 years ago to help reach out to kids who may not have presents for Christmas,” Walker said. “We will go through several agencies and find families within that demographic and invite them out to this annual event to have an enjoyable holiday season. Together, with our friends, we gather up as many bicycles as we can for boys and girls and give them out.”
We worked alongside the Phoenix emergency responders for this event, which is relevant to our state mission, and helps keep the bond between us and the residents of Arizona, Woods added.
“It’s great to show the people of this community what we do and interact with the kids. This helicopter belongs to these people just as much as it does to us in the Guard,” Woods said.