ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) — A St. Petersburg man is continuing his annual tradition of donating bikes so they can go to Tampa Bay kids in need this holiday season.
Alex DeJesus says it all began three years ago when he was in line at a Walmart behind a St. Petersburg police officer buying a bike for a needy child. When DeJesus asked the officer if he could pay for the bike, the officer told him why he was purchasing it.
“He told me a story that he loaned a bike to a kid who couldn’t make it to school,” DeJesus said. “So he promised her that if she continued to go to school, he would buy her a bike eventually. “
That got his wheels turning. He bought his first bike to donate to the St. Petersburg Police Department and posted about the purchase on social media. Friends responded in droves.
“Another friend said that, ‘I’ll buy two’ and now that means I got to buy three,” said DeJesus. “And another person said ‘I’ll buy four’ – and the next thing you know, it just kept going. “
This year, he’s collected and bought more than a hundred bikes. But that presented a unique problem.
“We bought too many bikes and now we’re trying to figure out how to raise some money to buy some helmets and locks,” laughed DeJesus. “But fortunately, that’s the easy ones.”
DeJesus is not raising money under a nonprofit organization. He is an individual. Anyone who wants to donate can check out his wife’s Facebook page.
After the bicycle donation has been made to the St. Petersburg Police Department, DeJesus says he will post the receipts online in order to remain transparent.
Brittney Keever is one of the friends who’s helping. She calls the mission rewarding.
“I have a 9-year-old daughter as well, so she loves to be a part of it,” Keever said. “And it’s just great to give back to the community that we’re so involved in and it’s great to see the kids with smiles on their faces when they get the bikes for Christmas. “