The friends and founders of LCBFC are Mike Koen, President of Liberty County EMS and David Milam, owner of Milam Discount Tire, in Liberty, TX. It was 2003 and Mike was visiting David at his shop. He noticed a bunch of new bicycles and asked about them. David explained that a tire manufacturer ran a promotion: buy 4 tires, get a free bicycle. Some of his customers only wanted the tires, so he needed to figure out what to do with a bunch of shiny new bikes. Mike suggested giving them to people in need for Christmas, and the idea was born.
They decided they would give the bikes to kids that wrote letters to Santa explaining why they needed, not wanted a bicycle. They put the word out through the local paper and radio station and soon letters came pouring in. Volunteers helped sort through them and that year they gave away 45 bikes to some very deserving children. Little did they know, it was the start of a charity that would grow and continue helping people in need for the next 15 years.
Perhaps we've outgrown our name because we do so much more than give kids bikes for Christmas. And our founders will tell you it hasn't been the work of two people, it has been the work of many that made each year a success. We are a 100% volunteer-run organization. No one involved receives compensation of any kind. Over the years, thousands of members of our community have come together and given their time and money to help their neighbors in need. Businesses and organizations have made significant financial contributions, as well as donating incredible resources to help make our events a success.
In our biggest year, we gave away 1,500 bicycles, thousands of toys, food, and more at an event that lasted all day. As remarkable as it was, it was bittersweet when we realized we were going to have to scale back if we wanted to help people that really needed it. Finding people with true financial needs that have had real and unfortunate setbacks is very important to us. The children and families we select and help have been nominated by teachers, counselors, bus drivers, first responders, special needs programs and other local nonprofits. They are a vital part of our organization because they see the children on a regular basis and know about their home or family situation. The children nominated and selected each year didn't ask for help, someone saw they needed it.
Law enforcement and first responder presence have been an essential part of our events. Many of the children we help have seen police cars, ambulances, and fire trucks when something terrible is happening in their home environment. Those vehicles and the people in them can become associated with trauma and negativity. Instead, we want kids to see them in a friendly, caring environment and know they are a safe place to turn for help. Liberty County Sheriff’s Department, county-wide EMS, Police and Fire departments participate each year and bring the “big toys." The children's faces light up when they get to check out the vehicles, turn on the lights and sirens, and see the friendly faces that protect and serve our community. We are thankful for each and every one of them, every day.
There is so much more about us; every person involved along the way has at least one story to share. Lots of work and planning goes into what we do, but the smiles on children's faces and tears in parents' eyes make it all worth it. From our humble beginning in 2003, we've grown and evolved in a way we're proud of. Each year has been a little different, but one thing has remained the same. The men, women, and children that come together and contribute to our organization each year don't just talk about the meaning of Christmas, they embody it.
If you are reading this and have helped in any way, Thank You. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts and on behalf of the children you helped. If this is your first time hearing about us, thanks for your interest. Many great organizations help others during the holidays. Please know that when you choose to give to our organization, you are making an impact right here at home. Please explore our website to learn more about what’s going on this year and see how you can help. May God bless you and yours this holiday season, Merry Christmas.