One hundred students from Smoketree Elementary School in Lake Havasu City, Ariz., found a big surprise waiting for them last Friday. Under yards of tarps lay a new bicycle for each student, donated through the Adopt-a-Bike event organized by the Loss Prevention Foundation and the USS Foundation.
When the tarps were removed revealing the bikes, the children erupted in cheers. “It was clear that the kids saw that doing well in school rewarded them with a bike, helmet, T-shirt and backpack,” recounted Gene Smith, president of the Loss Prevention Foundation. “When I asked them what they promised to do for us, several repeated that they would continue to come to school and work hard because good things would happen.”
Lake Havasu City, with only eleven percent of its residents having a college degree, was named America’s least educated city by 247WallSt.com. The USS Foundation and Loss Prevention Foundation have stated that their goal is to reverse this trend by instilling a sense of educational pride into students at a young age. According to Smith, the school’s teachers told the foundation about individual kids who have shown exemplary perseverance in the face of economic adversity and who have made great efforts to grow academically. This event was organized to reward those students.
“It’s just an amazing experience to have so many people excited to be able to help and further this movement, and impact these children’s lives,” noted Denise Canfield, executive vice president of USS. “And the nice surprise for us, as the event coordinators, is the generosity shown by the students and faculty of Smoketree Elementary. The Loss Prevention Foundation and USS Foundation actually raised an additional twenty bikes for the kids here, and instead of keeping them, they wanted to donate ten to another school in the area—paying it forward, as it were—to spread the incentive. That’s pretty stunning.”
Smith added that he was overwhelmed by the outpouring of support for the program. Many of the donations came from the loss prevention community. “We have a record number of donations and pledges along with a record number of volunteers on event day. Special thanks goes to Walmart for their generosity and their volunteers who put the bikes together. Kmart, Hibbett Sports, Petco and Home Depot were absolutely instrumental in making this a reality for the students.”
More information about the event can be obtained at this page.
This article was first published in January 2015