A Clearwater police officer is making sure every kid at Sandy Lane Elementary has a ride to school through local donations.
Officer James Frederick Jr. is what the Clearwater Police Department likes to call a “community champion.” He brings bicycles to students in need or simply to reward their good behavior.
“It provides hope to these kids, so, by being able to give them a bike and when they’re smiling,” said Officer Frederick. “It just says for that moment in time that they won something. Someone cares about them enough to say you special, you’re being brought out in the middle of school to be given a bike.”
He receives the bikes from a local Walmart. The partnership started around Christmas time when Walmart reached out to the Clearwater Police Department to inform them that they had a few extra bikes. The Police Department took the bikes off their hands and started the program at Sandy Lane Elementary.
Some of the bikes that Walmart gave to Officer Frederick were in need of repairs. He brought them to a local bike shop to get them back into working condition.
“It’s a good partnership that I have with the school,” said Officer Frederick. “The administrators there, also Ms. Rivera, we talk often and she’s able to say, ‘Hey I have two kids that are coming in or such and such.’ Then I’m able to kind of link them up with the bikes we have.”
Not all of the bikes came from Walmart. Many have been donated by people from the Clearwater community.
As rewarding as the bike may be to a student, it seems like Officer Frederick enjoys the gift of giving just as much.
“It makes me feel great,” said Officer Frederick. “It brings me back to when I was a kid, and I remember all the little tricks I did when I got my bike, and jumping over ramps and different things like that.”
Officer Frederick thinks it would be beneficial for the youth if it could be more of an event.
“It will also be good too to have the community with us when we give out the bike,” said Officer Frederick. “The more the merrier. These kids, they are kids, and they are impressionable and sometimes being able to have the community centered around us, as police officers, as we give this bike away to the kid would be pretty cool.”
Besides attending the bike presentation, there are other ways of showing support for the program. The Clearwater Police Department says they could always use more bikes and people with the skills to repair them. Donors are welcome to bring their bikes to the station and they will be passed along to Officer Frederick.