Each year, millions of children wait in line at a local mall for a chance to talk to Santa Claus. After waiting what can seem like forever for their turn, many of those kids plop down on the bearded guy’s knee and make a simple request — a bike for Christmas.

Boy Scout leader Arthur Bolen’s Troop 103 is helping out with that request, collecting both used and new bikes to be distributed at the annual Mac’s Toy Fund party on Dec. 17.

The scouts meet every Tuesday and Thursday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to evaluate and repair the used bikes.

“We put reflectors on all the bikes and really work on the brakes,” he said. “We go over all the bikes very carefully and fix whatever needs to be repaired. It would be awful for one of the bikes to get a flat tire a week after the party because we forgot to put an innertube in the tire.”

Bolen says Ride N Slide Sports on Second Street is providing the tubes at cost, something the troop leader says has “been a great help.”

This is the fourth year the Boy Scout troop has helped out with the Mac’s Toy Fund. In the first year, the scouts received 50 bikes, the second year they were able to distribute 125 bikes, and last year, 212 bikes were given.

“We’re hoping to beat that total this year,” Bolen said.

The boys are not alone in the project this year. Bolen said a couple former inmates from the work-release program volunteered to assist. According to Bolen, the men are not volunteering to fulfill a community service requirement.

“They just wanted to help out,” he said. “They’ve worked long hours and have really helped out a lot.”

Bolen said the scouts will also volunteer to work the distribution party where they will help people through the lines and carry items out to cars.

“The boys really work hard and they look forward to it every year,” he said. “They get to participate in a community activity that helps those that are not as fortunate. By working, they get to see how the community can pull together.”

The collection points for bikes are behind BJW printing on Robert C. Byrd Drive and behind Beckley Fire Department Station No. 3 on Eisenhower Drive.

— E-mail: mjames@register-herald.com

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