COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Chester Jackson, the owner of East Coast Body Shop on Farr Road in Columbus, collected 300 bicycles and gave away 277 to children who wanted to ride them in 2012. Jackson fixes bicycles and buys materials and resources out of his own pocket, because giving bicycles to children has been his passion since his childhood.
"I never received a new or used bicycle on Christmas," Chester Jackson recalled. "We could have used that money for something else, so I never got the chance to buy one. However, there were kids in my area who gave me used parts of the bicycle...and I would put it together. I made my own bicycle that I can ride. This is why I want to be the one who can give bicycles to children in our city who want them."
Jackson said all children are welcomed to take one of his bikes. He started collecting bicycles again for the same charity since early January of 2013. However, Jackson has collected only 30 bikes, and he said recycling, along with other issues might, be the problem.
"I see people in our area take their bicycles to recycle them," Jackson explained. "I understand that recycling is great for the industry and our community. However, I wish the bicycles were brought to me so that I can give some to the children who want them. I can fix these bikes for them."
In 2012, young burglars destroyed and even took some bicycles that Jackson was trying to present to children in his area. Although this is not a problem anymore, Jackson said his new problem consists of people not helping him anymore. He wants to collect 500 bicycles to give to the children by December 10th. Jackson said he has not given up hope.
"From the 8th of this November to 10th of December, I will host a gathering every Friday," Jackson said. "I will bring food in hopes of volunteers coming in to help me fix these bicycles and in hopes of people donating their old bikes."
While giving bicycles to children has always been Jackson's passion, he said he also believes that giving bikes to kids can prevent crimes in the community.
"If a child asks for a bicycle, and we give it to the child because we can." Jackson explained. "The child will learn to ask instead of stealing. I can give free bicycles. I just need volunteers to help me too."