Bikes, toys for local kids

It all comes full cycle.

State Rep. Jordan Harris and former Philadelphia Eagles defensive back Lito Sheppard helped hand out bicycles and other toys to local children at the ninth annual Bike 186 event at Yesha Fellowship Hall on Snyder Avenue on Dec. 21.

It was another round of good holiday gestures and another round of smiles from the children who got to take home a new bike.

“It’s an incredible honor to be able to give back to the community I grew up in and that helped raise me, and Bike 186 is the perfect way to do that around the holidays,” said Harris, House Democratic whip. “I’m incredibly appreciative to partner with Lito Sheppard and Pennsylvania Skill to bring cheer to so many families.”

Each year, Harris contacts local businesses and community members to ask for donations for the annual Bike 186 event, which coincides with Harris’ 186th Legislative District, serving neighborhoods like Point Breeze and Grays Ferry in South Philly as well as parts of Southwest Philly.

The idea for a bike giveaway comes from Harris’ belief that all children should have the opportunity to own a bike and use it to see the community they live in, while promoting a healthy lifestyle.

“Everyone remembers their first bike and the freedom and independence it gave them,” Harris said. “I hope these bikes help give that same freedom and independence to children in our community and help them explore some of the beautiful green spaces right here in our own backyard.”

The giveaway included a representative from Safe Routes Philly, who taught proper bike etiquette and safety to bike recipients. Harris also discussed healthy living for children and young adults as well as help with state government applications for programs such as the Property Tax/Rent Rebate and the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

Since Harris took office in 2013, he has helped give away thousands of bikes to needy children through partnerships with community groups and businesses, including Pennsylvania Skill.

“We at Pennsylvania Skill are thrilled to help out with this effort,” said Mike Barley, spokesman for Pennsylvania Skill. “We are always looking for ways to give back and, especially right before the holidays, Rep. Harris’ event is just a wonderful way to make a difference in this community.”

More smiles were induced as Sheppard, a 10-year NFL veteran and two-time Pro Bowl participant, helped hand out the gifts.

“I love Philadelphia and every time I get a chance, I come back and help out,” said Sheppard. “What Rep. Harris is doing with his annual bike giveaway is just tremendous and I am happy to be a part of it. Every kid needs a bike.”