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Salisbury police, Gerry Wood Auto Group bring smiles to children with bike giveaway

By Shavonne Walker
shavonne.walker@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — The Ellison sisters couldn’t wait to get their bicycles delivered to their house Friday by local police officers as a special treat from Santa.

The girls — Brianna, 7, Tatiana, 5, and Arina, 4 — kept asking their grandmother if and when the delivery would be made.

The girls were among 140 local children who received bicycles for Christmas through a partnership between the Salisbury Police Department and Gerry Wood Auto Group. The dealership provided 140 bicycles, 250 teddy bears and more than 1,000 candy canes for children whose parents signed up with the Police Department.

The girls’ grandmother, Jessie Ellison, adopted them and said it would be difficult for her to buy them all bicycles for Christmas.

Ellison said she told the girls Santa would bring them a bike after they left school, and the girls couldn’t wait. She often takes the girls to nearby Hurley Park and the walking trail near Knox Middle School.

“This is the best part of my job. It kicks off my Christmas weekend,” said police Capt. Melonie Thompson.

Thompson has been participating in the giveaway for 17 years. She said it’s always a special time of year.

“You get to watch the kids’ faces light up when you pull up to the driveway. I’ve always found they are very appreciative and the parents are very thankful,” she said.

Aylin Santos, 9, and her brother, Raul, 12, also received bicycles. The two were happy to get them.

“I’m happy because they didn’t have bikes and they like to go outdoors,” said their mother, Johanna.

She said her children are now able to ride their bikes with other children in the neighborhood.

This is the fourth year that Detective Jay Basinger has volunteered.

“It’s a great thing we do for the community and to see the kids because a lot of times they don’t get much for Christmas,” Basinger said.

Basinger said the bike giveaway is also an opportunity to show the children and their families the positive side of police officers. He thanked the Wood dealership for donating the bikes.

The program is about building a positive relationship between police officers and kids, said Brenda Wood. She said the children have the opportunity to see officers as people they don’t have to be afraid of.

Police Capt. Brian Stallings has been volunteering with the giveaway since its start and said it’s one of his favorite times of the year.

“It’s an opportunity to be seen in a positive light. I’m grateful to partner with Mrs. Wood and Gerry Wood to make this time of year happier. It helps solidify Christmas for us,” Stallings said.

Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.

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