Christmas came early for about 25 Davenport children who received refurbished bicycles from Santa Claus, thanks to the efforts of the Scott County Sheriff’s Department’s jail inmate bicycle restoration program.
Gathered at Davenport’s Friendly House on Thursday, the children went to get their bicycles from Santa as their names were called out.
“I love riding my bike,” said Ciahnasabre Jenkins, 7, who got a bike along with her three older siblings, Naomia, 11, TaniyahShante, 9, and Dajahsa, 8.
Their mother, Monica Jenkins, has seven children, with three younger boys. The four older girls all got bikes.
“You know how kids are, when one gets a bike they all want a bike,” Jenkins said. “This is a big help.”
In addition to new bikes, the children also received new helmets.
This is the ninth year that Friendly House has partnered with the Sheriff’s Department to provide bikes for children.
Scott County Sheriff’s Sgt. William Hyde said the bicycle restoration program has been going on since 2005. The bikes are donated by private agencies or residents or they are donated by other law enforcement agencies who find bicycles lying along the roadways or that have been confiscated.
Inmates with mechanical skills or who want to learn a new trade can enter the program while they are serving their time.
There were more bikes than children at Thursday's event.
“We always bring a few extra bikes just in case,” Hyde said. “We try to make sure the kids get a bike that fits them. The parents aren’t always sure about the sizes.”
It’s a precaution that worked out well this day as several children were a little too big for the bikes they originally received. The exchange worked wonders.
One of the inmates who has helped repair the bikes is Richard McCrady.
“I’ve put a lot of these bikes together,” McCrady said. “This is my second time on the restoration crew. I’m a mechanic out in the real world.”
McCrady said the department gets bikes of all shapes and sizes, including adult road bikes.
They often can cannibalize for parts the bikes that are too far gone to rehab to ensure there are plenty of parts for the bikes that can be fixed.
“Over my time, I’ve probably repaired about 300 bikes,” McCrady said.
“This is a great program because these children wouldn’t have a bike without this program,” he said. “I love watching these kids smile.”
Hyde said that some people getting out of jail need transportation to and from their jobs and a good bicycle gives them the ability to get where they need to go.
Friendly House began as the People’s Union Mission under the direction of the Rev. Ned Lee and was located Davenport’s Bucktown District, which today is along East 2nd Street.
In 1911, the mission became non-denominational and changed its name to Friendly House. It has been at its current location of 1221 Myrtle St. since 1993.
Friendly House has numerous youth, family and senior services that includes a food pantry, income tax filing assistance, preschool, summer daycare, and educational classes, to name a few.
For more information about Friendly House, contact Jodi Stock at 563-323-1821 ext. 17.