Lottery, nonprofit give bikes to 300 foster kids The Mesa Tribune | The Hometown Newspaper for the city of Mesa, AZ

Lottery, nonprofit give bikes to 300 foster kids

Lottery, nonprofit give bikes to 300 foster kids
Mesa
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TRIBUNE NEWS STAFF

Even if they haven’t won on Powerball or a scratch-off lately, Arizona Lottery players might be happy that some of their money made 300 foster children pretty happy during an event in Mesa last week.

Lottery officials and representatives of the Arizona Association of Foster and Adoptive Parents delivered 300 new bicycles and helmets to foster kids who gathered July 25 at Hillsong Church in Mesa.

“The Arizona Lottery exists to do good in our communities. Supporting our most vulnerable, our foster children, has a huge impact for Arizona,” said Arizona Lottery Executive Director Gregg Edgar.

“These bikes will give these kids who have lost so much a sense of normalcy and enhance their childhood development for years to come. We are proud to assist Recycle Your Bicycle as we fulfill our mission to make Arizona a better place to live, work and play.”

The Recycle Your Bicycle Program, part of AZAFAP, provides bicycles to children and youth in foster care.

Over the last 10 years, the program has provided more than 10,000 bicycles for foster families.

Joe Jacober, a former foster parent for 15 years, helped create AZAFAP alongside his wife when they realized foster kids and the families fostering them weren’t receiving as much support as needed.

Jacober said the bicycles, which are given out several times a year by the organization, give foster kids a sense of normalcy.

“I always ask people how they felt when they received their first bike,” Jacober said. “Everyone has the same reaction. In my opinion, there is nothing more normal or more exciting for a kid than a bike. It’s something you remember your whole life.”

Jacober said the event typically takes place in the spring but had to be pushed back because of the governor’s stay-at-home order.

“This year, Recycle Your Bicycle took an extra meaningful turn with the onset of COVID-19,” Jacober said. “Thanks to the support of the Arizona Lottery, we gave hundreds of bikes to children in foster care with no other way to receive a bike. We are grateful to the Arizona Lottery and all Arizonans for their support of children in foster care.” 

“We rely on volunteers to gather to refurbish all of our bikes,” he said, adding that this year’s event offered only new bikes to keep volunteers safe.

“Our mission is just as important as ever for the kids,” he said. “They still need the joy of their first bike, the exercise that comes from having a bike and, maybe most important, to be like every other kid in the neighborhood.”

The program hopes people will open their hearts and their wallets to help other foster kids get bikes this year.

Through an arrangement with the Huffy Corp., the nonprofit is getting bikes at a discounted rate that may be cheaper than you could find them on sale.

Jacober said anytime the organization donates bikes to kids in need it receives a warm welcome from the community.

Rina Grocke, a foster parent from Mesa, picked up bikes for the 2-, 4- and 7-year old kids. She said since then, the family has gone on bike rides every evening after dinner.

“Foster kids don’t generally have a lot of stuff to call their own,” Grocke said. “A lot of the kids that come to my door have never had a bike before. At least in my childhood memories, my bike was one of the most important. So for them to now have that type of childhood memory is amazing.”

Grocke became interested in fostering kids when she began working with the Department of Child Safety. On her first day, she walked into the office and saw a 2-year-old sleeping on a cot on the floor. She immediately felt the need to step in and help other kids in that same situation.

She now currently fosters five kids in total, one of which being a sibling group of four. Along with the 2-, 4- and 7-year olds, she currently takes care of a 6-year old and 1-year-old.

Grocke said everyone in line to pick up the bikes was ecstatic.

“I was sitting in line watching the parents and every one of them were just so thankful,” Grocke said. “I’m also part of a foster parent group on Facebook and so many of them promoted the event and asked how they could get involved to help. It’s awesome that it really brought the community together.”

Donors can go to recycleyourbicycleaz.com and can pick the size of bike based on age and the program’s workers will order it, build it and deliver it to a kid in foster care.

Tax-deductible donations range from $35 for a bike for someone 2 to 3 years old to $70 for a 26-inch bike for kids 12 and up.

Since 1981, the Arizona Lottery has generated more than $4.4 billion in net funding to support of programs that help to improve Arizonans’ quality of life by funding higher education, economic development, environmental conservation and health and human services. ′

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