Part 1 in our 12 Days of Christmas series
TELFORD,Tenn. (Dec. 25, 2014) -- Cold Saturday mornings in December are a great day to sleep late, lay around in your PJs, and watch cartoons curled up on the couch in a warm snuggy.
On Saturday, Dec. 13, however, more than 40 people from 10 different churches came together for the 9th annual Telford United Methodist Church Bikes for Kids mission project.
Bikes for Kids is a local mission outreach project that works with county schools to get brand-new bicycles in the right size to children who need this gift of love for Christmas. School guidance counselors submit lists of boys and girls and the bike sizes needed. The bikes are purchased (with helmets, too) and then assembled annually at Telford United Methodist Church. The needs range from 40 to 80 new bikes each year. Once assembled, the bikes are taken by volunteers to the local schools and handed over for distribution to selected students. This delivery process takes several volunteers and several days to schedule and deliver.
The Bikes for Kids at Telford UMC project was originally started by Handymen for Christ, Telford’s men’s group, under the leadership of Troy Arnold.
“With the awesome support of the church and community members, we have been able to continue this. Some years we have given over 80 bikes through local schools to children in need. This year we are at 46 and counting," said Phillip McLain, Telford's administrative chairperson.
One of the founding members of this project (and one of the most colorfully enthusiastic and energetic Telford church members) died this year. Eric Matthews was an avid supporter of any mission project that involved giving to children, and he had developed a comical alter-ego (a.k.a. “Bicycle Bob”) to entertain and encourage church members in the weeks prior and following the bicycle assembly week. In memory of Eric, the assembly this year was dubbed “Bicycle Bob Day."
I knew this was an active church as soon as I was appointed here. On my first Sunday, I was given a set of tools during the morning worship service. That set the precedence for my appointment here. This is a vital church in a vital community. Our mission is simple: "Be Real, Be Loving, Be Involved.”
Through the gifts of these bicycles, Telford’s prayer is that these children and their families experience the love of Jesus in a practical way this season.
Donations to the Bikes for Kids fund can be made anytime throughout the year, and the 2015 assembly date will be Saturday, Dec. 12 at 8 a.m. -- for anyone wanting to be part of this project. Other churches interested in ways to begin a Bikes for Kids mission in your community can contact Telford UMC for more information.
The Rev. Michael Vaughn is pastor at Telford United Methodist Church.