The Good Samaritan shelter in Santa Maria and Lompoc, and the Unity Shoppe in Santa Barbara, will be providing happy holidays for kids in need with help from community programs and Santa Barbara County Jail inmates.

Team Tailwinds, a bicycle club in Santa Maria, as well as Main Street Cycles in Santa Maria and the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Inmate Services program are all putting their shoulders to the wheel to provide bikes to homeless and underprivileged children.

Inmates from Santa Barbara will be refurbishing another 30 abandoned bicycles that have been accumulating in the Sheriff’s Department property room. Team Tailwinds and Main Street Cycles are donating 35 cycles. They will be distributed to the shelters and to Unity Shoppe in December, just in time for the holiday season.

The bikes will be assigned to specific kids; essentially every bike will have a name attached to it. “This one is very well organized and very well defined,” said Scott Clark of Main Street Cycles of the charity effort. “It’s going directly to the kids.”

Jail Commander Thomas Jenkins said of the inmates, “Anytime they are able to put their hand to something they seem to enjoy it. We are hoping that by being involved in Good Samaritan and the Unity Shoppe they will feel more like a member of the community.”

The Good Samaritan Shelter provides services to assist people who are homeless or dealing with drug and alcohol related issues. It offers food, medical support, counseling, and a place to stay when in need.

According to the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth, close to 800,000 children and youths experience homelessness. Many are still enrolled in school yet lack a place to sleep and stay and thus are forced to spend nights in cars, shelters, and other places of temporary refuge. According to the National Center on Family Homelessness, homeless families make up about 35 percent of all homeless people. Many of these families are single mothers with children under the age of 18. Around 1.35 million children in the U.S. are forced into a homeless situation within the course of any given year.

In addition to a helping hand and a warm place to stay, these community programs are helping many homeless children in need of a little Christmas joy this year.


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