Rose Dixon likes to kid around with students while she collects for Bikes for Angels program, sponsored by the auto tech classes at Ben Barber Career Tech Academy.We kind of joke and make the students laugh, said the 17-year-old Lake Ridge High School senior. We say Well take pennies, $100 bills, the mortgage to your house.But the Bikes for Angels program is no joke for Dixon, or for the children who will receive a bicycle this Christmas.I have personal experience, Dixon said. People donating stuff is how Ive had Christmas for the past seven years. It shows that people out there have a heart.This year Dixon is president of the Bikes for Angels program, which has been collecting money to buy bicycles and tricycles for children in need for the past six years, rounding up a more than $102,000 for 2,415 bikes. Auto tech students collect funds from their families and classmates, then purchase, assemble and deliver the bikes. This year, their goal is $30,000 to buy 700 bicycles. So far, they have $6,000 and 104 bikes, but they will keep collecting, buying and building until Dec. 17, said auto tech teacher Rick Curlee, who oversees the program.The bicycles and tricycles will soon start to crowd the cement floor in the auto tech garage, where the students get hands-on experience working on cars and other vehicles during the school year. The month before Christmas, though, the garage begins to look more like Santas workshop.The bikes will be delivered to Mansfield intermediate and elementary schools for children identified by school counselors, Common Ground Network, Operation Blessing, a womens shelter and Toys for Tots.Logan Straley, who graduated from Legacy High School in 2009, was part of the group that collected the most money for Bikes for Angels in 2008.We took for granted having bikes, said Straley, who dropped in to visit Curlee last week. It didnt set in until we started delivering them, that we realized that we were making a difference. Then we got our butts in gear.The kids, their eyes lit up, he recalled. They didnt think somebody would go out of the way for them. It felt good to give back.And putting together bicycles is a lot easier than fixing a car, Dixon points out, and it does feel good.You may be tired, but youre tired with a smile on your face, she said.
Amanda Rogers, 817-473-4451 Twitter: @AmandaRogersNM