Salisbury Police deliver Christmas on wheels
SALISBURY — Wake up, Sleepyhead. Someone’s here to see you.
More than once Saturday morning, parents rushed off to rouse their sleeping children when Salisbury Police officers and friends arrived at their homes with brand new bicycles.
Lazaria Gillespie, 9, couldn’t believe the bicycle waiting for her on the sidewalk outside her front door at Civic Park Apartments.
“That’s all my favorite colors,” she said, giving Salisbury Police Chief Rory Collins a big hug.
Still in her green-and-white pajamas, 10-year-old Constance Young apologized for being cold, but the new bicycle immediately warmed her spirits as she rolled it inside.
“Thank you all so much,” mother Stephanie Sumner said after the delivery of bicycles to her children, Essence and Malaki. “This is a blessing.”
Malaki, 6, had his helmet strapped on and was riding on the sidewalks at Zion Hill Apartments before the police delivery team was even out of his neighborhood.
For the 11th year in a row, the Salisbury Police Department joined with the Gerry Wood auto dealerships to provide bicycles for needy children ages 5 to 14.
“We look forward to it all year long,” said Brenda Wood, Gerry’s wife, who is heavily involved in the program.
Besides a giving spirit, the Woods provide their facilities and funding, which pays for the bicycles, helmets, teddy bears and candy canes. The teddy bears often go to younger kids who aren’t old enough for bikes.
The Police Department provides the manpower and its giving spirit, too.
Within a couple of hours Saturday morning, officers, department chaplains, civilian employees, family members and Salisbury Police cadets personally delivered 120 bicycles throughout the city.
This was the first event since the death in September of Salisbury Police Officer Wiley Lamm. In past years, Lamm played the key coordinating role for the bicycle giveaway program.
“Yes, we’re doing it for the kids,” Collins reminded everyone Saturday morning, “but we’re also doing this for Wiley.”
Saturday’s large turnout from the department not only made the delivery process faster, “but it shows a commitment and where your heart is,” Collins told the group.
The major coordinating role on the Salisbury Police Department’s end fell to Capt. Shelia Lingle.
She spent 80- and 90-hour weeks leading up to Saturday’s event working out the logistics — and there were plenty.
Receiving names, determining who is qualified, deciding the sizes of bicycles and making sure of directions to everyone’s home are just part of the things that have to be worked out.
Lingle said 336 children asked for bicycles, and that list had to be narrowed down to 120 through various criteria. Bicycle sizes came in 16-, 20- and 26-inch models.
But Lingle and Brenda Wood say it’s all worth it.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to share with the community and have them see the officers in a positive light,” Lingle says.
The Police Department made sure there was a uniformed officer at every delivery.
Brenda Wood says it’s important for the at-risk children being served to associate the uniforms with people who care — and they do.
“We’re really proud of them,” Wood said of the police officers. “I mean it from the bottom of my heart.”
Many officers made the morning a family service project. Lt. Tom Wilsey received help, for example, from his daughters Lauren and Olivia.
Lexis Gonzalez, a Salisbury Police cadet, rode along with her mother, Diana, a member of the department.
Abbey Beam accompanied her father, Lt. Greg Beam, and served as the official door-knocker on each of his bicycle deliveries.
Collins and Crystal Seastedt, who works in the department’s front office, traveled behind the Beams, the Gonzalezes and Lt. Andy Efird to several stops, including one pretty special one.
Alexis Adams is a 12-year-old resident of Civic Park Apartments who also participates in the police cadet program. She happened to qualify for a new 26-inch bicycle Saturday, along with three younger members of her family — Xavier, Jasmine and Damaysia.
She helped with other deliveries Saturday before arriving at her own home.
“I’m the only one who knows,” a smiling Adams said as she approached her apartment door with the bicycles and her police friends in tow.
Needless to say, the living room became quite crowded with new bicycles, people and plenty of smiles.
Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.