Bike ministry brings Christmas to hundreds



e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service
      
 

Bike ministry brings Christmas to hundreds

Dec. 22, 2006    News media contact: Tita Parham* 
800-282-8011  
tparham@flumc.org    Orlando {0594}

An e-Review Feature
By Maureen Lendzion**

James Boys prepare to load and deliver bikes. Photo by Bob Parlet, Photo #06-492.

ORANGE PARK — What child doesn’t dream of a shiny bike for Christmas? The James Boys of Orange Park United Methodist Church work all year to make that dream a reality for hundreds of Clay County Children.

“If you think back, one of the most important parts of your childhood is a bicycle,” said Tommie Darm, the church’s minister of stewardship and evangelism. “These men work year-round. How special it is at Christmas that they can assemble so many bikes for so many children whose parents could not afford to give them a bike.”

This year a team of seven James Boys members refurbished, repaired and delivered 284 bikes — 203 of them given to children at the J.P. Hall Children’s Christmas Party in Green Cove Springs. The remaining 81 bikes were given throughout the year to people referred to the ministry by a variety of social service agencies.

“People need them to get to work. Abused women and children need them — they leave home with nothing,” said Mac McCampbell, longtime James Boys and bike team member.

The Christmas party is a special time, however. The bike team delivers the bikes to the party and watches the excitement as children choose the bike of their dreams.

“That’s their last stop. We don’t let the parents in there — we let the children in by themselves to pick out the bikes they like,” McCampbell explains. The group tries to make sure each family gets at least one bike. “We’re just one of three groups that give out free bikes,” he adds.

Asked where the bikes come from, McCampbell says: “The congregation, I guess. They donate the used bikes.”

The James Boys already have 200 more bikes waiting for attention. The team, comprising retirees as varied as former police officers, air traffic controllers and pilots, will work every Tuesday morning to get next year’s Christmas bikes in tip-top shape.

McCampbell says he’s also not sure who gives the money to refurbish the bikes. “We don’t know that, either. People make memorials, and donations come from members and circles. We always have the money,” he said. “We appreciate the congregation’s support. We couldn’t do it without them.”

Bike repair has been a learn-as-you-go venture for some in the group. “When I first started I just knew how to work on a single speed bike,” McCampbell said, “but we learned from each other — we fix about anything.”

“They look good. We do whatever it takes,” he says of the team, many of whom have worked this project together for several years.

The bike ministry is just one of many James Boys ministries. The Boys are also well-known for constructing ramps for the handicapped and providing home repair.

Orange Park United Methodist Church is located at 152 Stowe Ave. Orange Park, FL 32073 and can be contacted at 904-264-2241 or http://www.opumc.net.

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This article relates to Outreach.

*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Lendzion is a member of Orange Park United Methodist Church.




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