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Bike, helmet donations for good behavior

Last Modified: Saturday, December 08, 2012 1:44 AM

By Nichole Osinski / American Press

Good behavior and good grades will net some J.I. Watson Middle School students free bikes and helmets from Academy Sports, which has been donating bikes and helmets to local schools for 10 years.

The practice, begun by the company about 25 years ago, has led to the donation of thousands of bike and helmets to children who may never have owned a bike in the past, said Connie Farque, operations manager with Academy.

“This is just a way for Academy to reach out to the community, and since some kids may not get a bike, they can get it for Christmas,” she said. “Plus it’s an incentive to work for it. The kids are always very grateful.”

Each Academy store makes a similar donation for a school in the area during Christmas based on the number of students. Stores get a list of elementary and middle schools and whittle it to three.

The names are sent to the corporate office, where a final decision is made. Farque said the store tries to pick a different school each year and suggests children ages 8-10 receive the bikes and helmets.

Teachers have been monitoring students’ behavior and academic progress to determine who will receive bikes and helmets. J.I. Watson Principal Pat Schooler said she is “overwhelmed with joy for the children.”

This season Academy will give away 20-inch bikes and helmets to 80 schools. The company asks each school to establish criteria — academic performance, need, behavior — to determine who will receive the gifts.

Students will be presented with the donations during a school assembly at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 11. The bikes —which are not sold at Academy stores — have been specially designed for the holiday donations.

“It’s the best part of my job, to see them; it’s extremely satisfying to see them during the event,” Farque said.

“The teachers and the principals really use this to really encourage the kids to see that they do well and reward the kids if they do well. It’s a way of teaching the kids that when you do your best that it pays off. Academy is glad to be a part of that.”

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