More than 300 northern Michigan children woke up Christmas morning to find a new bike under the Christmas tree, thanks to the efforts of the Bikes for Tikes program.
The program started when a small group of volunteers decided they wanted to leave a lasting impression with needy families at Christmas and has collected and distributed nearly 1,400 bikes in its 10-year history. A record campaign in 2011 collected more than 200 bikes. Organizers set a hefty goal of 300 bikes for 2012 and wrapped up the most successful campaign in its history, collecting 325 bikes. The bikes were distributed through the Northwest Michigan Toys for Tots campaign and sent to five counties in the Traverse City area.
"It was heartwarming to see the wide range of bikes come in," said Bill Marsh Jr., who helped sponsor this year's campaign and whose dealerships were primary drop-off locations. "We heard story after story of truly needy families that were helped with these bikes."
Bikes for Tikes also is sponsored by WLDR, American Waste, Jimmy John's, Graff & Hunt, Leelanau Sands Casino and Big Lots.