Smithfield Herald

Group giving gift of bikes

A nonprofit is giving children in Eastern North Carolina bikes to ride this holiday season.

The Spokes Group of Eastern North Carolina has teamed up with the Salvation Army to give a bike and helmet to 350 needy kids.

Walter Cannon and Tony Cannon, owners of a company that distributes food-serve equipment, launched the Spokes Group four yeas ago, pulling money out of their own pockets to buy bikes for the less fortunate, said Angela Hill, director of operations for Cannon Marketing.

“When Walter was a young child, he got his Christmas from the Salvation Army,” Hill said. “He remembered what it meant to get a bike, how it made him feel, how it has touched his life always; that was his main goal, to share that with others.”

Over the last four years, the Spokes Group has donated 800 bikes to children in Kinston, Goldsboro, Morehead City, New Bern, Rocky Mount, Smithfield and Wilson. This year, the Salvation Army in Smithfield will get 20 bikes.

This is the first year the group has accepted donations; $70 will buy a bike and helmet.

“Our goal was to give them to all Salvation Armies under the Eastern North Carolina umbrella,” Hill said. “This was our first year with donations, so we were not able to get every location, but we got well over half.”

The Spokes Group buys the bikes directly from the manufacturer to save money. On Nov. 29, the group held an assembly party in Kinston. About 50 people – friends, church family, Boy Scouts and others – came to help the nonprofit assemble its bikes.

While this year’s fundraising campaign has closed, but the Spokes Group of Eastern North Carolina is already accepting donations for next year. The nonprofit hopes to help 500 kids next holiday season.

Anyone wishing to donate can go to spokesgroupenc.org, which accepts PayPal and debit and credit cards. All money goes to buy bikes; the founders personally pay any overhead costs, Hill said.

A donation this year could make a nice Christmas gift for a needy kid next year, Hill said.

“If you have somebody you have no idea what to buy for, you can donate in their name,” she said. “We would be more than happy to send them a card.”

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