Social Eyes by Faye Reeder

Kids in poverty will ride high on bikes from Mission Arlington

It will be a milestone for a special hometown community initiative on Saturday when a crowd of parents and kids gather in the parking lot at 2229 W. Park Row Drive at 9 a.m. On that special morning, it will mark the 10th anniversary of the Bikes for Mission Arlington.
It will be a milestone for a special hometown community initiative on Saturday when a crowd of parents and kids gather in the parking lot at 2229 W. Park Row Drive at 9 a.m. On that special morning, it will mark the 10th anniversary of the Bikes for Mission Arlington. Courtesy

It will be a milestone for a special hometown community initiative on Saturday when the crowd of parents and kids gather in the parking lot at 2229 W. Park Row at 9 a.m. On that special morning, it will mark the 10th anniversary of the Bikes for Mission Arlington program, and the decade of achievements from this initiative are impressive.

When a couple of dads back in 2007 decided they wanted their kids to experience the thrill of giving to those less fortunate, they took them shopping for bicycles and delivered six of them to Mission Arlington to be gifted to kids living in poverty.

From six bikes in the beginning, the program has steadily grown and last year 1,750 bikes were donated through this effort. Because so many parents want the opportunity to teach their children what it means to unselfishly give to others, the easily understood lesson of buying the bike and helmet and then joining the caravan of cars as the bikes are delivered to the Mission Arlington Christmas Store is an idea that caught on.

“It’s a blessing you cannot explain,” said Mission director Tillie Burgin in a recorded interview. Burgin said the one thing most kids at the Mission Arlington store ask for at Christmas is a bicycle and that without the ‘Bikes’ program their families could not go out and buy one for them.

Arlington businessman Clay Kelley has been involved in the program for years. “Little did we know that Bikes would grow to where it is today. From 6 bikes the first year to over 1,750 last year — it is truly a God thing,” Kelley said.

However, planting seeds for the future is important to sustain the effort. “It is our goal to reach younger families to get involved in Bikes and reach the next generation,” Kelley added. “When Bikes began, all of our kids were in elementary school, now most of the leadership team’s kids are in college.”

The lofty goal this year is to gift 2,000 bikes and helmets to kids served by Mission Arlington. The organizers invite anyone in the community to join the special experience of being a part of the police-escorted caravan that travels from Park Row Dr. to the Mission store on Abram St. to deliver the bicycles. All that’s required is to have your child choose a new bike for someone his or her own age and bring it to the Saturday gathering.

In a Facebook post Kelley wrote: “As a dad, I know what it is like to take my boys and have them pick out bikes that they know they will not receive and donate them to children who they will likely never meet. Acts of compassion and selfless service are the greatest gifts I have given my sons...it is also Mission Arlington's mission and what Christmas is all about.”

To learn more, visit www.BikesforMissionArlington.org or check out the group’s Facebook page.

Delino DeShields honorary chair of Toy Drive Finale event at Globe Life Park

In a partnership with the Cowboy Santa program spearheaded by the City of Fort Worth Neighborhood Services department, the Texas Rangers are now hosting a toy drive that will culminate in a Toy Drive Finale event on Dec. 18 from 4-7 p.m. at Globe Life Park.

Honorary chairman of the toy drive event is Rangers outfielder Delino DeShields. The toy drive launched last week and will continue up through the Dec. 18 event. Organizers are asking for new and unwrapped toys or books to be dropped off at the Texas Rangers Grand Slam Gift Shop at Globe Life Park in Arlington and the Rangers Fort Worth Team Shop at 316 Main St. during regular store hours. Items may also be dropped off at all Fort Worth Police and Fire Departments.

“The Rangers are proud to be partnering with the Cowboy Santas program for the seventh consecutive year. Our fans are very generous every holiday season in helping bring joy to so many youngsters in Tarrant County,” said Rangers Executive Vice President of Communications John Blake. “Our annual Cowboy Santas Toy Drive Finale at Globe Life Park is always a lot of fun and we look forward to seeing everyone out here on December 18.”

The party scene is the center field Vandergriff Plaza area and will feature Rangers personalities hanging out to sign autographs and lots of fun activities like face painting, crafts and a photo booth. The KidsZone will be open and food and beverages will be available. While holiday movies are shown on the big screen, Santa will make a personal appearance. Free tours of the ballpark will be offered every half hour during the event.

“Donations of new, unwrapped toys and books for boys and girls, newborn to age 12, will be greatly encouraged at the finale event,” said Rangers spokeswoman Kate Munson. “The Cowboy Santas Toy Drive results in the collection of thousands of new, unwrapped toys that are distributed to children from low-income families in Tarrant County.”

Guests at the December 18 event may park in Lot B and enter through the Majestic Grand Slam Gift Shop. To make inquiries, call 817-273-5207 or visit www.rangers.com/toydrive

2018 Arlington Pet Calendar makes great gift for animal lovers (and you won’t believe who made the cover!)

The annual Pet Calendar published by the Arlington Animal Services department is one of those gifts that keeps on giving. Proceeds from the calendar help fund the animal education courses that the shelter provides, and the calendar itself is a visible reminder all year long of the adorable pets that are always awaiting adoption at the shelter.

“The first calendar was designed in 2007 and it has blossomed into one of our most anticipated projects each year,” said Animal Services Manager Chris Huff. “The calendar fundraising allows staff, citizens, and volunteers to obtain animal knowledge through various educational programs. Those purchasing the calendar will find the pictures uplifting, and it will brighten each month of the year for animal lovers.”

Pets featured on each page in the calendar are chosen through a yearly contest. This year’s photo pinups were submitted by the generous people who volunteer for the City of Arlington in various capacities.

Calendar customers will be surprised when they see the cover of the 2018 calendar because for the first time (drum roll here) a rabbit won the coveted spot on the calendar by taking first place honors in the contest.

“The cover features the winning pet – a super cool Lion Head bunny named Bumble. A rabbit winning the contest has everyone abuzz since he was the first bunny to ever win top honors,” said Huff who added that rabbits are available for adoption from time to time. Bumble’s proud owner is Arlington Animal Services volunteer and board member Judith Flynn.

Anyone wishing to purchase a calendar for the animal lovers on their gift list can pick one up at the shelter located at 1000 S.E. Green Oaks Blvd during regular business hours. Calendars are $5 at the counter. Huff said more than 3,700 local residents were served through community outreach programs that her department provided last year.

Calendars may also be purchased for $8 online by visiting arlingtonwebstore.com/.

At a glance

Mayor’s Holiday Pajama Storytime is Dec. 13 at 6:30 p.m. at the Southeast Branch Library. Children are encouraged to wear their favorite cozy pajamas and bring a stuffed friend along for the fun. The festive evening will include a story by the mayor, a sing-along, indoor snowball tossing and snow shoveling, holiday-themed photo booth, crafts and more. Activities are geared for preschool-aged children, but the entire family is welcome to attend. Details at www.arlingtonlibrary.org/mayors-holiday

Santa Cops need volunteers for the Dec. 16 Santa Cops Party at the Arlington Convention Center from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. At the party, families come from all over Arlington for the children to receive their Christmas gifts. Sign up at www.facebook.com/APASantaCops/

Musical Memory Singers needs volunteers to help with the choral group that recently formed in Arlington. The singers in the group are people suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia problems. Caregivers and volunteers working with people who have the memory challenges can also be part of the choir.

The choir and the volunteers meet on Thursdays at the Pantego Lions Community Center, 3535 Marathon Dr. in Arlington. Upcoming dates are December 7, 14, and 21. Next month, the opportunities are January 4, 11, 18, and 25. Contact Velma Bogart at 817-467-0158 or vlbogart@outlook.com to learn more.

Symphony Arlington celebrates the season on Dec. 14 at 7:30 p.m. at the Arlington Music Hall, 224 N. Center St. The concert will feature tenor Richard Trey Smagur performing Vaughn Williams’ “Hymn” from “Hodie,” Finzi’s “The Rapture from “Dies natalis,” and Tyzik’s “Twelve Days of Christmas.” In addition, SA will perform Tchaikovsky’s “Danses carateristiuqes,” Nicolai’s “Weilhnachts Overture,” and Anderson’s “Sleigh Ride.” Also, included is the annual sing-along. Call 817-385-0484 or visit www.symphonyarlington.org for tickets that are also available at the door.

Do you have a news tip for Eyes on Arlington? If so, send it to freeder@star-telegram.com. Keep up with even more community news by “Liking” our page on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/SocialEyes.ST. Twitter: @FayeReeder

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