Roswell Headstart children will be ready to roll this holiday season after the Eddy County-based charity Ride For Bikes announced its plans Thursday to donate 335 bikes to the Roswell nonprofit organization. Ride For Bikes is made up primarily of employees from the Artesia companies Navajo Refining Co. and Holly Frontier Corp.
Roswell Headstart area supervisor John Wagner said the bikes will go a long way to serving Roswell’s low income, poverty-stricken families.
“Our median household income is $15,000 a year. So a lot of these children don’t necessarily receive a gift for Christmas. And these individuals from Holly Frontier and Navajo have been so gracious to select our program as a nonprofit organization to donate these bikes. It means a lot.”
Wagner said Roswell Headstart is the first nonprofit organization outside of Eddy County to receive bikes from Ride For Bikes, and that he hopes the relationship between the two organizations is one that will “continue in the years to come.”
Robby Gaines, project manager at Navajo Refining Co., said Ride For Bikes has been giving away bikes to community organizations for seven years. He said the program started when Navajo employees were putting bikes together to get around the refinery at Thanksgiving time, and the idea struck that they ought to do bike builds for kids.
Gaines said the program raised $5,000 in two weeks during that first year, and gave out 35 bikes to CASA House in Artesia. Donations, members and the number of bikes built have continued to grow over the years, to the point where Ride For Bikes has now built more than 1,200 bikes since its inception.
Ride For Bikes also has a $1,000-per-semester college scholarship called Riding to Meet the Challenge that it gives away annually to a high school student who overcomes hardships.
Gaines said bringing Ride For Bikes to Chaves County is part of the group’s aim to expand the charity into other areas of New Mexico. “The only thing keeping us from expanding the bike giveaway and the scholarship is raising money. But if we get people excited about it, it’s just a matter of raising the money and putting the bikes together.”
The bike build for Roswell Headstart will take place Dec. 8 in Artesia. Gaines said the planned budget for this year’s bike build is around $27,000.