RACINE — An unusually high number of face-painted children excitedly rode bright, brand-new bicycles around the neighborhood near Washington Avenue and West Boulevard on an overcast Saturday afternoon.
The young riders came from Arise! Christian Stores, 3312 Washington Ave., which hosted area families for an early lunch, face painting and spiritual reflection and gave away 100 bikes to area children.
“This is a blessing that this organization is helping the kids by giving them bikes,” said Doyle Hayden, who was helping his 3-year-old niece Airen Evans learn how to ride her new, flashy pink bike. “Maybe the kids will stay out of trouble and have a good summer.”
Along with its affiliated congregation Stand On His Word International Apostolic Ministries, the store owners offered free new bikes to any children who took part in the event Saturday morning and through a drawing.
All 100 bikes were gone soon after noon, according to congregation member and organizer William Stuckert.
“Our mission is if (the children) don’t know Jesus, we want them to know Jesus and understand that this is a gift from the Lord,” he said. “We know the kids that are leaving are going to have a good summer because they have a new bike.”
Some children took time to contemplate the gift and where it had come from, such as De’Marius Bogguess, 11, who admitted that his bike was not perfect but said he appreciated it anyway.