New Wheels: Markia Prince, second grader at Sophia P. Kingston Elementary School, checks out her new bike donated by the Universal Surveillance Systems Foundation. Prince was one of 100 students to receive a new bike Tuesday. -- Sarah Cook

Students receive free bikes

Published 12:23am Wednesday, December 12, 2012

One hundred brand new bicycles rolled into Sophia P. Kingston Elementary School Tuesday, delivering one hundred smiles to the school’s students.

This special delivery was part of an initiative by the Universal Surveillance Systems Foundation, a non-profit organization with a vision of helping needy and vulnerable children.

After finding out Monday night that her daughter would receive a brand new bike, mother Patricia Mitchell said she couldn’t believe it.

“It was really exciting when they told me,” said Mitchell. “I can’t afford a bike for my daughter, so this is really nice. I’m thankful for them coming here and doing this.”

Kingston was on of many stops for the Foundation, which officially began last year after its president, Adel Sayegh, visited South Africa and noticed children were having to walk more than four miles to school everyday.

“Some days it would take them four or five hours to walk all the way to school,” said Samantha Durbin, foundation assistant. “So he decided to start up a bike donation program for these kids.”

While the foundation has been working out the logistics of the donation program, Durbin said they have decided to try out the program within the states first.

“Last year we went to Michigan and Ohio, but this year we’re expanding to the southern states,” Durbin said. “This is the first of our southern states trips. Tomorrow we go to Louisiana and then on to Mississippi.”

The best part of the whole process, Durbin said, is seeing the excitement and bright smiles on all the children when they see their brand new bikes.

“There’s been excitement, tears, joy — it’s just been really, really cool to see,” she said.

Rod Holm, senior vice president of USS, said one of the foundation’s goals in donating the bicycles is to encourage underprivileged children that they can achieve anything they put their mind to.

“We try to base who gets the bikes on good citizenship,” Holms said. “We just want to instill in these kids that they’re capable of becoming anything they want to be — a doctor, nurse, teacher, astronaut, anything.”

Holm said the foundation hopes to expand its outreach next year and at least double the amount of schools that receive bicycles

The bikes are purchased by the foundation and assembled free of charge by Walmart.

“I think this is just wonderful,” said Jacqueline Williams, the mother of Shaderricka Williams and Derrick Ford who received bikes Tuesday. “This is great that they’re doing this for the kids and I’m extremely thankful.”

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