As soon as Santa Claus announced Cesar Gonzalez’ name, the 11-year-old El Centro resident raced toward a black and white bicycle he had been eying for more than five minutes.
“I was going to look at the other bikes, but I liked it, so I decided to keep it,” Cesar said.
Cesar and more than 80 local children received a new or refurbished bicycle at Centinela State Prison’s annual Bike for Kids program at the Imperial County Probation Department here Friday.
Jackeline Urrea had also picked out her bicycle in advance and was only a little disappointed when she didn’t find it.
“I liked it because it was pink and white, but then I found this purple one,” said Jackeline, an 11-year-old Calexico resident.
Children from various areas in the Imperial Valley were preselected from a number of different agencies, schools and churches, said Ken Phillips, community resource manager at Centinela State Prison.
“The prison is solely responsible for the refurbishing of the bikes through an inmate rehabilitation program,” Phillips said. “People from the community and the El Centro and Calexico Police departments also helped because they donated old bikes or parts. It’s a community effort to be able to do this.”
After choosing their bikes, the children were given a lock and a helmet and the bikes were then registered by the El Centro Police Department.
Alejandra Vargas said she was excited she received the helmet and lock because it meant she would be able to ride her bike to school.
“I had a lot of fun (Friday),” Alejandra, an 8-year-old El Centro resident, said. “I can’t wait to get home and ride my new bike.”
Staff Writer Karina Lopez can be reached at 760-337-3439 or firstname.lastname@example.org