Allison Coleman made a beeline for the Candyland bike.
“I like it because it’s pink, I like candy, and I like to play Candyland,” said the 8-year-old, who wore a big pink bow in her hair.
Coleman had been eying the candy-encrusted bike with a Candyland game propped on its handlebars since the beginning of Thursday’s presentations at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics’ Holiday Charities Parade. She was one of nine kids from the Child Study Center for kids with developmental or behavioral disabilities who had their pick of more than 200 bicycles — many of which were elaborately decorated — lining the walls of a gigantic meeting room.
The two- and three-wheelers — the rest of which, along with more than 2,000 toys and $55,000, went to Toys for Tots — were part of more than $200,000 in cash and gifts gathered by and from about 14,000 employees of the aircraft manufacturer on Fort Worth’s west side.
“It was great to see the smiles on the kids’ faces when they saw the bikes,” said Gingerbread Woman (aka Brianna McKernon), who with Lord Licorice (Marcos Loe) represented the Candyland bike’s creators — Lockheed’s enterprise integration department. The department bought and decorated four bikes, covering them with such sweets as Jaffy Taffy, Starbursts, Skittles, Snickers, Tootsie Rolls, M&Ms and Reese’s Pieces.
“It was fun to give back to the community,” said Lord Licorice.
It also was fun to roll or ride through the halls of Lockheed’s main factory building on bikes like some tricked out to look like a dollhouse, a supersonic warplane, even an aircraft carrier with landing lights flashing on the flight deck. The Holiday Charities Parade followed a Marine Corps color guard and the Brewer High School drumline.
The annual event — this was the 20th one, as far as anyone at Lockheed can recall — is a favorite of Executive Vice President Orlando Carvalho. He thought for a couple of seconds when asked what he felt while watching the bike parade.
“Pride,” he answered. “I’m so proud of the men and women who work for our company and what they do to give back to the community.”
Along with the Child Study Center, this year’s beneficiaries include Catholic Charities, Cowboy Santas, SafeHaven of Tarrant County, the Salvation Army, Tarrant Area Food Bank, Toys for Tots, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the Star-Telegram Goodfellow Fund.
The newspaper’s 105-year-old community-service project received $10,000 from Lockheed Martin’s Aero Club.
Employees of what the oldest Fort Worth residents might still call the bomber plant have been a huge part of the Goodfellow Fund’s success for more than 60 years, said Richard Greene, the charity’s executive director. This year’s gift will help Goodfellows reach its goal of putting clothes and shoes on about 17,000 school-age kids.
Greene thanked “the board of directors of the Aero Club and the Lockheed Martin employees that reside in our community for the long-tenured support and their very, very generous gift.”
Marc Spencer, board president of Cowboy Santas, said the $15,000 gift his organization received could effectively expand to more than $20,000 in value for the 10,000 children a year it serves.
“Cowboy Santas is the only charity doing a complete Christmas with stocking stuffers, two books, an outside game, an inside game and a toy for each child,” Spencer said. “We give books even to the infants, because when parents read to their infants there’s a special bond that happens.”
Other presentations included 1,400 angels adopted with more than $118,000 for the Salvation Army Angel Tree; 3,000 pounds of food and $300 in cash for the Tarrant Area Food Bank; and clothing and cash for 800 people, as well as 12 sleeping bags, for Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Be a jolly Goodfellow
Since 1912, the Star-Telegram’s Goodfellow Fund has provided practical gifts for schoolchildren. Join this tradition by sending a contribution to Goodfellows, Box 1870, Fort Worth, TX 76101. Or go online to goodfellowfund.org and make a secure credit card donation.