The Bicycle Man Community Outreach Project in Fayetteville is asking for a little help in a way it never has before.
This Christmas will be the first one without Moses "Bicycle Man" Mathis, and donations are a little behind.
His widow, Ann Mathis, said Thursday the bike warehouse has a little more than 400 bikes right now, but there were more in the warehouse at this time last year. To keep up with last year, the organization will need a total of nearly 1,200 bicycles at Christmas.
"Mind you that sometimes that is the only thing they get that Christmas," Mathis said.
So the Bicycle Man board of directors has organized a bicycle collection drive at the Ramsey Street Walmart this Saturday. Donations will be accepted between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.
The goal is to get 100 bikes, but board member Carlos Swan said that will not be a measure of success.
"If we get one bike in, that's one more child we can make happy," Swan said.
Bicycles can be any size, but there is a particular need for small, 20-inch bicycles. They can be in any condition also. Mechanics will repair any bikes that need work.
"We just need the bikes. It doesn't matter how bad the bike is," Swan explained. "We may be able to use that part off that bike on another bike."
Mathis said the collection drive is the first time the organization has asked for donations at a set time and place. Previously, donations trickled in from time to time, usually to the warehouse, but sometimes to the Mathis home.
She said she is committed to continuing the organization's work because it brought such joy to her husband. He died in July, meaning he will not be around to see the smiles brought to children's faces this Christmas.
"If he could just see a smile on one child's face, he's the happiest," Mathis said.
She said she is also committed because of a promise made to her husband.
"I made a promise to him that I was going to finish it up, and I'm going to keep it ongoing as long as I can," she said.
One other need the organization has is a new cargo van. Mathis said the one currently in use is virtually falling apart, and she is not sure if it will continue to pass inspection each year.
Brandon is a North Carolina native and UNC alum who lives in Fayetteville, and covers Cumberland County and the Sandhills. Returning to North Carolina to work as a journalist is a dream come true for Brandon.More>>