ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - The St. Petersburg Police Department teamed with St. Pete Fools Charity to give hundreds of bikes to children in need this holiday season.
The charity event started in 2019 when Alex DeJesus of Fools Charity saw an officer buy a teen a bicycle in Walmart. He bought 10 more bikes that year to give to the police department for other children.
Now, five years later, they raised money for 500 bikes, and got to see the bright smiles or not just kids, but the parents and officers too.
"Our thought was that this was a really great way for the police to have engagement with the community not on something significant or bad occasion," Alex DeJesus said. "Thirteen bikes our first year and now five years later, 500 bikes. The first thing a [little girl] screamed was, 'My first bike!’ And you just see the smile on her face-- that’s her bike now. So, in the long run, she’s going to remember her first bike was given to her by a police officer."
A girl receives a bike for the holidays.
One child attending the event Monday said, "I had met with Officer Jones at my school and she was telling me [about the bike]… I was happy."
Parents were just as thankful.
The St. Petersburg Police Department and the St. Pete Fools Charity gave away hundreds of bikes.
"Our neighbors had just stolen our bikes a few weeks prior from our backyard, so they were ecstatic, they were super happy. I am currently not working, and I have not been able to do certain things, so it’s really nice to have them be able to get something they really wanted," a parent told FOX 13.
There’s no putting the brakes on this annual holiday giveaway for SPD and for families.