One hundred children went home Saturday morning with a brand new bicycle, courtesy of the Rotary Club of Hinsdale and the USO of Illinois.
For the second year in a row, the Rotary Club bought the bikes and 100 helmets for the children of active military service men and women in Illinois, in honor of Armed Forces Day.
The bicycles were in two sizes, 20-inch and 12-inch, some with training wheels, and in two color designs, black and lime green, or pink with turquoise trim.
The children were thrilled to pick out their own bicycles, said Rotarian Tom Norton. They were divided into two age groups, 3 to 7, and 8 to 10 years old, for the selection.
In early April, the USO of Illinois announced the Bikes for Military Kids program in Hinsdale on its website. Within three days, nearly 200 families had requested a bicycle, Norton said. The USO chose names via a lottery.
The Rotary Club uses money raised through its annual Rotary Run Charity Classic, Norton said.
Last year was a learning experience, Norton said. In 2018, he did not find a store that would deliver 100 bicycles en masse to the Community House, where the distribution would take place.
He and other volunteers ended up going to four different Walmarts, including one in Joliet, to find enough bikes in the sizes they needed. They then stored them in Norton’s garage for the two weeks before the giveaway.
A Walmart employee at the Darien store explained he should order the bicycles about six weeks in advance, which Norton did this spring.
The Rotarians rented a 26-foot truck Thursday and picked up the bicycles, which Walmart employees already had assembled, and brought them to the Community House.
“It took two trips to move 100 bicycles,” Norton said. “It’s amazing how much volume the 20-inch bikes take up. But it was a lot more efficient than driving up and down (Interstate) 55 to stores.”