Campus Crest Communities and Flagg Chapel Baptist Church teamed up for the eighth consecutive year, giving away more than 150 bicycles to families in need Friday.
Campus Crest owns The Grove at Milledgeville, a student housing community located at 500 W. Franklin St., and helped renovate the community center behind Flagg Chapel shortly after the apartments went up in 2005.
Now, the old school bus depot supports Flagg Chapel's outreach efforts. This community center warehouse staged the bike giveaway.
“When the Grove went up, we didn't know anybody in town. We wanted to be nice to our neighbors. This church really welcomed us in,” Mike Hartnett, co-founder of Campus Crest Communities, said. “We got to know Rev. Reid and saw what they were doing with the children and community programs and wanted to be a part of it. When we built our property, we renovated this which is now a community center for the kids.”
Dr. Collinda J. Lee a local educator and District 1 City Councilwoman said this is the time for giving.
“I like seeing people come together. It's shows fellowship especially when the church is involved because that's where everything should start anyway,” Lee said. “This is something that God wants us to do. You need to let people know we care, we appreciate you and we love you. That's the bottom line.”
Working with the Baldwin County School System and the Division of Family and Children Services, volunteers identified the right families in need. The call to say we have a bicycle for you never gets old.
“When you call them on the phone, they are excited because they didn't even have a clue they were on the list,” Lee said.
Shantise Preston said the church and housing community should keep up the good work.
Preston remembers her first bike.
“It put a big smile on our face,” she said. “It's very heart touching when you get that bike to ride.”
Rev. Omer Reid, senior pastor at Flagg Chapel Baptist Church, said working with Campus Crest has been wonderful.
“Of course they get total credit for everything we do down here,” Reid said. “We give bicycles to the folks who need them, but without (Campus Crest) there would be very few bikes. They have been a blessing to the community and our church.”
It took all day Thursday to organize the bikes purchased and setup the Flagg Chapel center. Reid thanks his hard working churchgoers.
Church member and longtime Milledgeville resident Larry Martin said this event's positive feel can “carry you through the rest of the year.”
Flagg Chapel's congregation works tirelessly to make the community feel the love.
“I look forward to being here every year just to do this,” Martin said. “I remember what it was like to get a bike at Christmas, and I can just imagine the smiling looks on these kids' faces when they get one. Giving back is what we are supposed to do.”
In every college town featuring a Campus Crest Community, the company finds churches or community group partners.
The annual Bicycle Giveaway started off small, according to Hartnett. Now, the program peaks at 150 bicycles gifted.
“I think over the last seven or eight years we've given out over 1,000 bikes. It's just been a real success story,” Hartnett said. “We are doing this across the country, but we have a special place in our heart for this one because this is where it all started.”
Reid said churches should give back to the community they receive support from.
“We ought to be giving just like we receive. God expects us to be good stewards in being able to help those in need in the community,” the pastor said. “We have a really good program.”