Brandon Gaines, 12, was spinning circles around his 10-year-old sister Saturday afternoon, as older brothers often do. But sister Katelyn didn’t mind. Both were riding new bicycles they had just received as part of a charity giveaway at the Tillicum Youth & Family Center.
They were two of 54 recipients at the center who also were provided with bike helmets and lunch. The younger kids got toys.
The bikes were provided by Make A Change, a nonprofit charity foundation in Snohomish County.
The foundation is dedicated to helping people and doesn’t focus on one specific need or resource, said representative Michael Mallahan.
“We like to keep it vague,” he said of the foundation’s mission as children rolled their new bikes past him. Make A Change donated 100 bikes to King County Toys for Tots in 2011, Mallahan said.
Bicycles provide transportation and responsibility, but “more than anything, it provides a sense of freedom for children,” he said.
On Saturday, 50 mountain bikes and four BMX bikes were distributed to the center’s young people, who range in age from 12 to 19.
The center’s director, Jason Emanuel, said just about every child at the center was able to receive a bike. The center provides guidance and mentoring for young people, be it scholarly or spiritual. The youths, who come from Tillicum and Woodbrook, are mostly at-risk, Emanuel said.
Out in the center’s parking lot, Brandon already was doing tricks on his new BMX bike as Katelyn admired her bike’s purple-and-silver color scheme.
“I like purple,” she explained. “And pink.” Brandon had yet to pull the plastic off his bike’s seat, which featured a black-and-white fleur-de-lis.
Nearby, 16-year-old Eric Jimenez was sitting on his new bright-yellow mountain bike. It wasn’t a color he would have chosen, he said, but he wasn’t complaining. Brother Jonathan, 18, also received a bike, and the siblings, students at Clover Park High School, were already looking forward to summertime bike adventures.
Funding for the bikes and helmets also was provided by the Washington State Patrol, the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office and iSoftStone, a Kirkland technology company.
Craig Sailor: 253-597-8541