My Giving Story: The Shiny Bike
A fuzzy memory pops into my head every Christmas season: I must have been seven, or eight years old. My parents drove my siblings and I down to a part of town where we rarely went. It was dark, the heavy dark of winter, and it was cold. I may have been a bit cranky because I was forced to wear tights and dress shoes, anticipating some “grown-up” event where I would have to sit still.
We entered a building and wound our way to a gym. Bleachers lined the walls of the basketball court make-shift auditorium; someone was handing out plastic mesh stockings that contained oranges, apples and candy canes. I looked around and saw children and parents holding the stockings around me. I fidgeted with my dress, uninterested in the talking that was going on below.
Suddenly, there was a commotion. Chatter in waves filled the gym. I listened closely and heard the speaker say that one lucky member was about to win a bike. A shiny BMX bike was wheeled into the center of the gym. Anticipation mounted. Children leaned forward on the worn wooden bleachers, scooting to the edge of their seat. A name was called.
My memory fades remembering the boy in the red sweatshirt with worn jeans bolting to the floor to claim his prize; hands shaking as he grasped his special, shiny, brand new bike. He didn’t have to dress up. I wondered if Santa would bring me a new bike too.
Years later, I realized the significance of that night. I had attended the Christmas celebration at our local Boys Club, now known as the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Chattahoochee Valley. The children there that night, came from one of our more impoverished neighborhoods. The stockings full of fruits and a few sweets were probably the only treats they would receive during the holiday season. The boy who won the bike, he may as well have been Charlie winning a golden ticket; he hit the jackpot. That night was his visit from Santa.
Years later, I’m a third generation Board Member with our local clubs. My grandmother and father before me taught me about the importance of each of our Boys & Girls Clubs in the development of leadership, health, and success of the youth in our community. After years of watching my grandmother sell daisies as a fundraiser, and my father serve time as President of the Board, I went on to get my first real job working in the administrative office. I was responsible for calling donors to sponsor a golf tournament to benefit the programs at the clubs. I discovered how much those dollars stretched to provide a safe haven and to give children coming to after school and summer programs some well-rounded extracurricular activities - after homework of course!
As a college student, I returned with classmates to complete service projects in the J. Barnett Woodruff Club to showcase what the kids were learning. I saw first hand how much the staff loved those kids; how important it was to keep the teenagers on track. Most stunning, was we heard it from the kids too. Recent local Youth of the Year winner N’Zier Bohannon, spoke to us at our Women’s Giving Circle Luncheon and told attendees that the Clubs and their staff were responsible for sending him to college. He lamented that his younger brother didn’t come to the clubs, didn’t follow his path ,and was not able to benefit from the same opportunities he did. Misty eyed, he thanked every one in the room for supporting the clubs because it meant we were making a difference in the lives of children like him.
I don’t have one single time that supporting a non-profit meant something to me; My Giving Story is about one organization that has my heart. The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Chattahoochee Valley have inspired joy, hope, and dreams of a successful future in the lives of children that may have otherwise been derailed. In my opinion, the best way to positively influence our community is to raise up our children, and our local Boys & Girls Clubs do just that.
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