Looking for adventure

Published 9:36 pm Monday, May 19, 2014

Folks who arrived at Chesapeake Square on Saturday morning to visit one of the shops might not have known much about the hive of activity in the parking lot.

If they went over for a closer inspection, they saw children — well over 100 through the morning — hard at work with wrenches and the like, putting together brand new bikes.

They also saw lots of broad smiles, because these children were assembling their first bikes.

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For many generations, bike ownership has been the average kid’s first opportunity to be solely responsible for something of value.

It has also spelled freedom, with the chance to hit the open road with your friends, even if only on a dozen or so streets in the neighborhood approved by your parents for roaming.

But not every kid gets this chance. For whatever reason, bikes for many kids can be far down their parents’ shopping list.

But what shoppers at Chesapeake Square on Saturday wouldn’t have known — at least not without chatting with the friendly volunteers helping the children with their mechanical engineering projects — is that Suffolk employees of Golden State Foods were responsible for the project.

The local chapter of the Golden State Foods Foundation partnered on the build-a-bike event with several other businesses and Believers Church, which provided most of the volunteers, along with other kinds of support.

According to Danny Register, foundation chairman in Suffolk, about nine in 10 local employees of Golden State Foods kick part of their paychecks into the foundation.

At a time when living costs for everyone seem to be always growing, that’s a huge benefit to the community from the workers at just one company in Suffolk.

Recipients of the bikes were selected by the Chesapeake unit of the Boys and Girls Club of Southeast Virginia, whose program leader is Jason Grant.

“This is a great opportunity for kids who might not have the money to get a new bike,” Grant said.

After the bikes were built, they were checked for safety before the Chesapeake Police Department led safety lessons.

A lot of streets Saturday afternoon and Sunday were thronged with children enjoying the freedom a bike brings for the first time.

In a world of haves and have-nots, it’s nice to know they will now enjoy something they have long deserved the chance to enjoy.