Goodwill Program Gives Bikes to Needy Children, Job Training to Unemployed Workers

Rows of bikes ready to be distributed through the Santa Wheels programGoodwill Industries of Middle Georgia and the CSRA teamed up with local organizations this month to provide more than 200 Augusta-area children with bicycles and helmets as part of the community’s annual ‘Santa Wheels’ program. Goodwill has been involved with the program since 2006, contributing 1,035 volunteer hours and distributing more than 600 bicycles to deserving children.

Partners on the Santa Wheels project include local Master Buick GMC, Master Chevrolet Cadillac, Andy Jordan’s Bicycle Warehouse and Safe Kids East Central.

“When Master Buick GMC called and offered to help Goodwill trainees learn valuable job skills by mentoring them to refurbish the donated bikes, we were thrilled,” said President and CEO Jim Stiff. “ We are very eager to help people who are unemployed land a job before Christmas and to help deserving children get a bike for Christmas.”

Children were selected via an application process conducted by Goodwill’s job connections center. Many children who received bikes have parents enrolled in Goodwill’s programs. The bicycles were given to the children at a “bike rodeo” on December 15.

The partnership benefits more than the children and families who receive the bikes – it also helps people supports job training for Goodwill Industries trainees who are seeking to enter the workforce.

Eight trainees in Goodwill’s WORKing Solutions, a program serving individuals who are homeless, have been earning a paycheck while refurbishing bikes since October and have learned valuable job skills from volunteer mentors while repairing and reconditioning donated bicycles.

Goodwill pays the program participants to revamp the bikes four days per week with one day set aside for job search training and advisement at South Augusta’s One Stop Career Center. Through this process of learning job skills, four of the trainees have already gained employment.

Visit the Santa Wheels Facebook page to learn more about the program and see pictures from this year’s efforts, or visit WFXG to see video from the event.