'Mr. Earl' Could Use More Bikes
“Merry Christmas. This is Earl Wright.”
That’s how the man affectionately know as “Mr. Earl” answers his cell phone these days.
Wright is responsible for making Christmas a little brighter for hundreds of needy children through his Project Santa, which collects, repairs and refurbishes unwanted bikes and then distributes them to children on Christmas Day.
But as Christmas nears, donations remain below last year’s level and well below Wright’s goal.
“We have 380 bikes so far,” Wright said Friday. “Last year, we had 427, and our goal this season is to try to have 500.”
Wright attributes the lower numbers to the sluggish economy.
“It’s been a little rough this year because the economy has been rough on a lot of people, but it’s going to come around,” Wright said. “Moore County people will give when nobody else will. That’s why I live here. The people are so good.”
Bill Smith Ford at 1010 Old U.S. 1 North is the official drop-off point for the bikes.
Wright said bikes of all kinds will be accepted, but the most urgent need is ones for younger children.
“Mr. Earl” and his helpers will distribute the bicycles from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Christmas Day at Bo’s Food Store, 750 SW Broad St., Southern Pines.
Children of all ages are welcome to come pick up a bicycle free of charge. They must be accompanied by a parent or guardian and are asked to bring two nonperishable food items in exchange for a bike. All donated food will be given to the Sandhills Food Bank.
Wright said he is optimistic that with a little help from the community, the goal is attainable.
“Last year, we had a lot (of donated bikes) come in at the last minute — like the last two weeks before Christmas,” he said. “Hopefully that will happen again.”
Contact Tom Embrey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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