We’ve been a part of this community for more than a dozen years,” said Ron Drew, Operations Manager for SAFTI FIRST and its parent company, O’Keeffe’s Inc. “Nearly everyone who works here at the plant grew up in Merced’s south side…the poor side of town,” he explained. “Christmas is a ‘north side’ experience for most.We wanted to do something that provides not only a brighter Christmas, but sends a positive message that if you work hard, things really do have a way of working out.”
SAFTI FIRST raised the money among the 100 employees at the local plant and the San Francisco sales office, and enlisted the support and assistance of the local school district. The school district endorsed the program and identified students who’ve improved their grades, and also those from families in need. “We’ve put together Bicycle Giveaway day, December 22nd, at the warehouse for these kids and their parents –– a bounce house, hamburger and hotdog lunch, some dedicated playtime,” Drew continued. “It’s going to be 157 excited youngsters –– all on wheels at the same time!
“For many of them, it’s also going to be a first taste of freedom, of independence. A bike to a child is like a car to a teenager –– a rite of passage –– and we’re really pleased to be able to partner with the schools and parents to give them this moment…and to hopefully impress upon them that doing well and staying in school is the right path to better things in life,” he concluded.