THREE GIFTS OF KINDNESS
Katheryn Rogers begins her famous poem with the following:
‘Tis the season to be jolly?
To be kinder than yesterday
For that jolly ole St Nick
Is surely coming our way?
Why is it only once a year
People think to be kind
Why can it not always be
For the better of mankind?
We answer her question with the fact that people in The Villages are kind all year round. Here are three short vignettes to support my view.
First, the residents of the Pennecamp Lakesiders raised over $4,000 throughout 2021 to purchase bicycles for children. They combined this money with a $3,000 donation from the Sean McGee Charitable Foundation that Connie and Bob McGee established to memorialize their son who died in a car crash. The Sumter County Sheriff donated $2,000 from the 501c (3) it established this year to make gifts tax deductible. With these donations, we have been able to purchase 101 new kid-sized bicycles for Christmas gifts this year. Dave Lawrence really scoured bike sources to get the best deals. Thanks, Dave.
Second, the Sumter Landing Bicycle Club cooperates with the Sumter County Sheriff to clean, repair, and adjust bikes that it collected all year. This is the result of the exceptional relationship that Dave Lawrence began with Lt. Nehemiah Wolfe and continues with Lt. Bob Siemer. This year, approximately fifty volunteers showed up at the Lake Miona Regional Recreation Center to work on the bikes that the Sheriff’s Deputies delivered. Quite a few bikes were brand new or nearly new. Department stores, such as Target and Walmart, regularly accept bikes that customers return, for whatever reason, and donate them to the Sheriff. We inspect and repair them. Usually, a few dollars for parts and a little knowledge of how to adjust a bike result in a “new” bike. We recycle other bikes that might have slight blemishes or need adjusting to make them suitable gifts. People like new things, but sometimes nearly new will be OK.
Third, we have collected and distributed seventy-five used bikes during this COVID calamity, which seems to drag on. People give us used bikes, some in excellent condition, others that require some creative effort. Regardless, we make repairs, touch them up cosmetically and turn them over to residents, children, and folks who need basic transportation for work. It is joyful work. Besides, what else would a retiree do with all the time we have on our hands?
So, we contend that people in The Villages are kind and generous all year long, not just at special times.
by Bob and Rose Jordan
Bicycle Friendly Advocacy Council