Christian Kinnison has danced in public and learned seven languages. Hannah Middleton and Christopher Page have learned public speaking. Rose Dixon has learned to how to coax change out of her classmates’ pockets. And Miranda Small has learned how to put together a bicycle.
The Ben Barber Career Tech auto tech students have spent the past few months learning new skills so some kids they don’t know can have new bikes this Christmas.
“The kids don’t know it’s from us,” said Dixon, a Lake Ridge High senior and president of Ben Barber’s Bikes for Angels program. “They think it’s from Santa. But we see them riding around on them and we know we built them.”
So far, their efforts have raised more than $18,000 for 420 new bikes, and they have assembled another 104 for the Miles for Meredith group, which also donates bikes.
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But the teens aren’t done yet. Although they have already delivered bicycles, tricycles and even some handicapped bikes to Common Ground angel trees, elementary and intermediate schools across the district and the Joshua angel tree, they plan to keep rounding up spare change and business donations through Friday, the last day of school before the holiday break. They’re hoping to raise $25,000 for 700 bikes this Christmas.
And they’re willing to work for the cash.
Kinnison, a Mansfield High junior, donates money from his job, but he went even further this year. He has learned to say “money,” “please,” “bikes for angels” and “thank you” in Russian, German, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, Latin and American Sign Language while shaking down his classmates at Ben Barber.
And he danced. Kinnison strutted his stuff in Ben Barber’s fashion show this fall, and he still turns red when he talks about it.
“I was walking down the runway like I was showing off, modeling the Bikes for Angels T-shirt,” he said.
It worked, says Middleton, a junior at Frontier High, who says they collected $354 in less than five minutes.
“People were giving way more than I thought,” she said. “I dumped out the (Bikes for Angels) fliers and used the box. People were just dumping in money.”
Page, a Lake Ridge High junior, has donated his lunch money and gotten up to speak in front of all of his classes.
“I don’t like being on the spot,” he said. “I know what it’s like to be one of the kids that don’t have anything. It’s the least I can do to repay the community. It lets them know there are better times coming soon.”
The Bikes for Angels program started in 2006 when some of the counselors asked auto tech teacher Rick Curlee to deliver some bikes. The program has grown each year, but 2008 still holds the record with 600 bikes. The auto tech students hope to top that this year.
“If we aren’t able to buy bikes this year, we’ll use it for next year,” Page said.