Police Navidad: Officers, volunteers deliver donated bikes to children for Christmas

Published 5:35 pm Tuesday, December 21, 2021

By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — When 12-year-old Taniyah Joseph opened the front door Tuesday morning and saw a brand new light blue Huffy bicycle, her jaw dropped.

All she could say was “thank you.” Despite the freezing weather on Tuesday, she stepped outside to view her new bike before even putting on a pair of shoes.

Joseph is one of more than 100 children throughout Salisbury who were gifted free bicycles this holiday season from the Salisbury Police Department. Now in its 20th year, the giveaway is an annual partnership with Gerry Wood Auto Group to ensure local children don’t go without for Christmas. Additionally, it provides an opportunity for the police and community to build positive relationships.

“Mr. and Mrs. Wood began the event several years ago understanding the importance of holiday giving as well as creating lasting and mutual relationships between law enforcement and citizens,” said Salisbury Police Lt. Koula Black. “This event gives the officers an opportunity to interact with local families in a warm and engaging way. Some children who may not be getting much for Christmas now have the opportunity to receive a brand new bike that is all their own.”

Despite nationwide shortages this year, Black said about 130 bicycles and helmets were donated by the Gerry Wood family, with a handful donated by local citizens. Salisbury Police officers and other volunteers gathered at Gerry Wood Honda early Tuesday morning to load the bikes into trucks, a Livingstone College bus, trailers and even the Special Response Team truck. From there, officers and volunteers delivered bicycles to the children directly.

“I think it’s a great thing because a lot of people are struggling right now,” said Tammy Raynor, who’s Taniya’s aunt. “It’s a blessing for them to be able to do this and bring joy to the kids.”

Salisbury resident Stephen Small said the bikes his two children received will be used and enjoyed. His son, 12-year-old Jordan, had to trash his former bicycle just a month ago. For 8-year-old sister Braylee, her new pink, white and blue Huffy bike is her first “big girl bike” without training wheels. Now, Braylee can join her brother and friends in the neighborhood for bike rides.

Braylee and Jordan were both ready to take off on their new bikes Tuesday morning as soon as they were delivered.

“It’s just a blessing to be able to help children smile on Christmas,” said Bryan Duncan, a member of the graduate chapter of Phi Beta Sigma at Livingstone College.

Duncan was one of three fraternity members who volunteered to deliver bikes.

The children receiving the bikes are selected via an online application that begins in November, Black said. Children must be aged 5 or older and live within city limits. Eligible families must meet certain financial restrictions as well. For families who weren’t aware of the program or the application, Black told the Post she anticipates an application for next year will go online sometime next November.

The Rowan County Sheriff’s Office also assisted with bicycle deliveries.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.