BELOIT - Ten years ago, the Salvation Army in Beloit had to raffle off the scant few children's bicycles it had in stock throughout the day of the organization's holiday store.
Over the past decade, DuPont Industrial Biosciences has donated more than 900 bikes for the holiday store, with this holiday season marking a big anniversary for DuPont. The company has 90 employees, and all pitch in to help raise funds during the year, help assemble the bikes and collect them from Beloit Walmart.
"It's really the employees that are pushing this," said DuPont plant manager Mike Vonderhaar. "They've taken it and run with it. They really even run the program. All of us remember our first bike when we were kids and that memory stuck with us. To know there are kids out there that don't have their first bike is what really drives a lot of the employees."
This year 125 bikes were donated to the Salvation Army.
DuPont Logistics Scheduler Jennifer Pulaski said the company also makes sure each bike has a helmet to go with it.
"Safety is really an issue for us and we want to make sure they are safe when they get their bikes," Pulaski said. "It's an incredible undertaking that we've gone through. It was really surprising that it's been 10 years already. We really want to give back to the community as much as possible."
Vonderhaar said the efforts of the DuPont staff continue to pay off.
"We were shocked there were only three bikes for about 100 kids at the holiday store in 2008," he said. "They are expensive and don't fit in toy drive boxes. It all comes down to the employees."
Vonderhaar said he wanted to thank Walmart for helping assemble this year's haul.
"It usually takes a while to put that many bikes together," Vonderhaar said. "Walmart was a great help. They've been phenomenal and we really appreciate it."
When asked if she was looking forward to next year's drive, Pulaski smiled and emphatically said, "oh yes."