Santa Claus will be wearing a badge again this year when the Sheriff’s Office holds the 32nd Annual Christmas Bicycle Giveaway, presenting youngsters with free bicycles for Christmas.
The Sheriff’s Office has been giving away bicycles during the holiday season since 1989, when Ed Williams was Sheriff.
“This program,” Sheriff’s spokesman Tony Cipolla said in a news release, “was created to promote the holiday spirit by giving away refurbished bicycles and new helmets to children in need in San Luis Obispo County. Due to the generosity of the people of this County, the program has continued to be a big success.”
How it works is people new or slightly used bicycles at the County Honor Farm where inmates repair and refurbish them to be given away to county children up to age 15.
“The program instills in the inmates a positive work ethic, self-respect, and a sense of worth to the community,” Cipolla said.
Cipolla added, “we will be accepting adult bicycles, but we prefer children’s bicycles since they are in high demand. If you know a child [up to 15-years of age] in need of a bicycle, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org to request a Christmas Bicycle Application or see: slosheriff.org and click on ‘Resources’ at the top of our homepage and then ‘Forms and Applications’ on the drop down menu.”
And the Coronavirus Pandemic looms large over the program. As a result of the pandemic, Cipolla said, new bicycles, replacement parts and accessories are in short supply this year. “We are seeking the public’s help by asking for new bicycles, new helmets, or monetary donations for replacement parts.”
And the program will also be adhering to COVID safety protocols, which means they will schedule pick-up times for people who applied for a bike from Dec. 6-10 at the Honor Farm, 880 Oklahoma Ave. (off Hwy 1 at Kansas Avenue).
The Sheriff is asking everyone to wear a facemask when they come in to pick up their bikes. Applications are due by Nov. 24.
Individuals and businesses that want to donate new children’s bicycle helmets in their original packaging can bring them to any of the Sheriff’s Office Patrol Stations or to the Honor Farm. To make a cash contribution for the purchase of parts or helmets, send a check to: Sheriff’s Advisory Foundation, Attn: Bicycle Fund, P.O. Box 3752, San Luis Obispo, CA 93403.
Cipolla added, “The Sheriff’s Office could not continue this program without the help and generosity of groups like Rita’s Rainbows, which donates money to buy bicycle helmets; Bike SLO County, which donates many hours to helping inmates refurbish the bicycles; The Sandlot Group of San Luis Obispo for donating new bikes; and the Sheriff’s Advisory Foundation which donates time and money to the cause.”