Christmas Parade SoPines 28.jpg

File photo: Project Santa's Earl Wright and some young friends in the 2018 Southern Pines Christmas Parade. Ted Fitzgerald/The Pilot

There is plenty of work underway in the Project Santa workshop. Earl Wright, Moore County’s “Bicycle Man” and his volunteer elves have been on a steady roll getting ready for this year’s Christmas morning bike giveaway.

But donations are much needed so they can purchase new bicycles to meet their goal.

“It seems as though this time of year things happen to Project Santa,” said head elf-in-charge, Sharon Thompson.

In October and November, volunteers helped sort hundreds of donated bicycles into piles of what was salvageable and what was not. This massive effort was spearheaded by Keith Moneymaker, owner of Sweet Dreams Mattresses & More and founder of the Dreams4All Foundation, along with his staff and dozens of volunteers, including members of the Pinecrest High School football team.

Bicycles that needed TLC were put on trucks headed to Wright’s Project Santa workshop to be readied for a Christmas giveaway. A much larger assortment of rusted, damaged or bikes otherwise deemed unsafe were stacked in a box truck to be carted to the scrap yard.

“Earl was more than grateful for the help and thanked everyone,” Thompson said, “but, in the move, some good bikes were accidentally scrapped.”

With only a few weeks left before the holidays, the Project Santa folks are trying to wrap up what they can she added. They simply do not have the manpower to repair donated bicycles that need more than minor repairs.

“With the time left, Earl is asking for donations of new inner tubes that fit 10-inch, 12-inch, 16-inch, and 18-inch bikes,” Thompson said.

His wish list also includes more cash donations to purchase new bikes for the giveaway. 

“Earl is grateful for whatever your heart brings him,” she said.

The Project Santa traditional Christmas morning bike giveaway will begin at 8 a.m. at the former Bo’s Foods/IGA Fresh Foods parking lot on Broad Street in Southern Pines, across from the Sly Fox Pub.

If there are enough leftover bicycles, Project Santa will also hold a New Years Day giveaway in the Robbins community.

To receive a bicycle, all children must be present with a responsible adult. Parents/caregivers are not allowed in the bike area. Instead Project Santa volunteers assist the children, one-on-one, to help them select an appropriately-sized bicycle.

All children are asked to bring three non-perishable food items to donate as part of the giveaway.

Want to help? Contribute to the Project Santa account at Woodforest Bank in Walmart, Aberdeen; mailed to Project Santa, 291 S. Mechanic St. Southern Pines, NC 28387; or to volunteer call (910) 639-9506.

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