HOPE Initiative teams with ATO
The idea for the bike drive was sparked after Richard Richards became familiar with the HOPE Initiative through a service-based learning mass communications class. Richards and two classmates organized a field day for the children of Copper Creek and Forrester Gardens Apartments.
“Seeing the happiness that our event brought to the families in those neighborhoods changed my perspective on how I should utilize my public relations skills,” Richards, Bike Drive supervisor and founder and the social chairman for ATO, said in an emailed statement. “After getting to know Dr. William Scroggins, director of the HOPE Initiative, I asked that he allow our fraternity to partner with HOPE for a signature event.
“The premise behind donating bikes is the function of bicycles themselves,” he said. “In an era where childhood recreation is dominated by video games, these bikes will provide a mode of transportation that is both healthy and enjoyable.”
According to datacenter.kidscount.org, there were nearly 8,000 or 19.3 percent of children living in poverty in Tuscaloosa. The ATO brothers believe donating these bikes to kids in the community for Christmas will have a lasting impression.
“There are a lot of kids in Tuscaloosa who don’t get any Christmas presents at all,” said Dan Young, a senior majoring in marketing. “A bike is something we found that was a really big need that they had as far as transporting and getting around. A lot of them don’t get anything on Christmas, so it’s a way for them to get something on Christmas.”
Drew Smalley, a senior history major continued, “I think it’s good [ATO] is partnered with a charity from Tuscaloosa. It’s good to know that students here at the University are being able to impact Tuscaloosa.”
“A lot of people are [donating] out of the goodness of their heart. Students at the University of Alabama do care for the less fortunate, especially the kids,” Smalley said. “In the coming years, we’re really hoping that this becomes a real big deal and we’ll be able to do it year-round.”
Richards said the goal for the Bike Drive is to collect at least 100 bikes.
“We’re not quite on track to get 100 bikes, but with the Christmas season approaching quickly, we’ve seen a sharp rise in donations,” Richards said. “If everyone just asked their parents if they have an unused bike in their garage, we can arrange pick up. A refurbished bicycle could make someone’s Christmas morning.”
Bicycles of all sizes and conditions will be accepted and be given to children of all ages. For those who need help transporting a bike, members of ATO will arrange for a pickup. Those who are able to transport bikes themselves can drop them off at the ATO fraternity house on fraternity row.
In order to donate a bike or make a monetary donation, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or call Richards at 704-651-3821.
“There are neighborhoods just miles from campus where people are living well below the poverty line,” Richards said. “For some of these children, receiving a bike for Christmas may be the happiest moment of their lives.”
For more information on the HOPE Initiative visit tuscaloosaprayer.net