SACRAMENTO, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Close to 200 Sacramento area children and teens were astounded to receive new bikes last night, donated by community members and businesses and assembled by local volunteers including members of the Sacramento Wheelman Club, Sacramento Police Department, and Sacramento Police Department Cadets.
The surprise gifts were unveiled by Santa himself at a holiday party for foster and at-risk kids who thought they were at the California Automobile Museum for a Christmas party and community award presentation to supporters of EMQ FamiliesFirst, a nonprofit agency that helps children and their families. Partway through the show, Santa threw back the stage curtain to reveal 195 new bikes of all sizes and colors and announced that each child in the audience would be leaving with a new bicycle of their very own.
After receiving his bike, one of children ran up to a Sacramento Police Department officer, hugged him, and said, “Thank you for being here tonight.”
Once the bicycles, helmets and locks were matched to their new owners, the Sacramento Police Department and Cadets managed the parking lot traffic so that each child could take a test ride to make sure everything was good to go. Then the Cadets helped load the bikes in families’ cars.
“We look forward to this event every year,” said Lt. Roman Murrietta of the Sacramento Police Department. “This is the time of year when you want to surprise and delight youngsters. These kids have had a rough time and many probably thought they wouldn’t get any presents at all. These gifts show that the community around them cares about them – that they are not forgotten.”
“Holidays can be difficult for everyone who doesn’t think their lives match the perfect images we see in TV commercials and movies – and that’s pretty much everybody,” said Gordon Richardson, Executive Director of EMQ FamiliesFirst in Sacramento. “This season is especially upsetting for children and teens whose families are in some type of crisis.”
The bike giveaway, also known as the “Foster Santa” program, is in its 39th year. The Sacramento event is the largest of seven holiday parties in different counties in California, all organized by EMQ FamiliesFirst. Community donations paid for the bicycles and volunteers spent hundreds of hours assembling and testing the bikes.
At this year’s event, lead sponsor Union Pacific Railroad unionpacificrailroad.com was given the “2014 Above and Beyond Award” for their ongoing, dedicated support of the Foster Santa program. Other local businesses and community members were thanked for their support, including Dynacraft dynacraftbike.com/, Paladin Commercial Real Estate, RETS Associates retsusa.com/, Ethan Conrad Properties ethanconradprop.com/, California Automobile Museum calautomuseum.org, Sacramento Wheelmen sacwheelmen.org , Sacramento Police Department sacpd.org, and Sacramento Police Department Police Cadet Program sacpd.org/getinvolved/student/cadet/.
About EMQ FamiliesFirst
EMQ FamiliesFirst is one of the largest, most comprehensive mental health treatment programs in California. The agency takes a state-of-the-art approach to children and adolescents with complex behavioral health challenges and helps them recover from trauma such as abuse, severe neglect, addiction and poverty. Our results for youth are on average 10 percentage points higher than state or national averages on metrics such as living at home, staying in school and remaining out of trouble. For more information, visit www.emqff.org and follow the agency @emqff.