Christmas arrived a week early for more than 100 young Caddo Parish students, as District Attorney James E. Stewart Sr. distributed gift bicycles for the second year running.
This year the give-away was done Monday, December 18, 2017, with Academy Sports and Outdoors on East Bert Kouns Industrial Loop and Volunteers for Youth Justice.
Bright yellow buses dropped off the students, from Werner Park, Northside and J.S. Clark elementaries, at the Academy outlet. There, well over 100 bikes, provided by an anonymous donor, were ready with the names and school of recipients neatly printed and affixed to each bicycle.
“These people at Academy are awesome,” Volunteers for Youth Justice Executive Director Kelli Todd said as Academy Store Director Juan Fortiz and Hard Lines Manager Douglas Paga ensured each bike matched its recipient. “They’re switching out bikes, making last-minute adjustments for kids for whom maybe the bike was a little too small or too big.” VYJ worked with the school principals to select the recipients, with the give-away then facilitated by DA Stewart.
“It’s great that we have a local anonymous benefactor who wanted to see some kids who wouldn’t normally have a Christmas to have a Christmas,” Stewart said. “Even with Xboxes and PlayStations, bicycles are still great Christmas gifts for kids who normally wouldn’t have a Christmas.”
The partnership with Academy was new this year.
“Academy stepped up,” Stewart said. “They took what we had and added to it. They provided some very nice bikes. They wanted to make sure these kids had good bicycles.
Hailey Mosley, 4, who attends J.S. Clark, checked out her new bicycle, complete with handlebar tassels and training wheels, as Principal Kenya Roberts watched.
“This is phenomenal,” Roberts said. “A lot of our students would not actually get bikes or anything if it wasn’t for this.”
For more information, call John Andrew Prime at (318) 617-5958, or call the Caddo Parish District Attorney’s office at (318) 226-6955. For more information about Volunteers for Youth Justice and its programs, call its offices at (318) 425-4413.