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Bike giveaway going strong

John Dickess, with Dickess Auto Repair, is seen in a sea of bicycles that will be given away Dec. 8 to area children. Participants in the drawing can register at Dickess Auto Repair or Advance Auto Parts in Ironton.

No, that’s not a new bicycle shop in the former Papa John’s building on Park Avenue in Ironton.

Each bicycle inside was purchased with donations from local businesses and individuals who know the importance of making sure Christmas is bright for children less fortunate.

With more than $7,000 raised, Advance Auto Parts and Dickess Auto Repair in Ironton have surpassed the goal they set for themselves for their Christmas bicycle giveaway.

The two businesses wanted to give 100 bikes away to needy children in the county — a goal more than three times larger than the amount given away last year for their first effort.

This year, John Dickess and Advance manager Don Schwartz started taking donations in September. The response, they say, has been overwhelming.

As of now, there are 104 bicycles — from Big Wheels to 24-inchers — in the building across from the two businesses, a space donated by Charlie’s Tires.

“We are not stopping there,” Schwartz said. “As long as the community is giving, we are getting bikes for these kids.”

Friday, the repair bay of the auto repair shop was like Santa’s Workshop — Swartz, Dickess and other employees were working to put together some of the Big Wheels. Most of the bikes, purchased from the Walmart in Ashland, Ky., came unassembled.

“We’ve got more bikes than Walmart,” Schwartz joked. “They’ve been extremely good to us.”

Dickess said there is a bit more money available to purchase a few more bikes, but they are trying to figure out what sizes to get.

Aside from the bicycle raffle box, located in the Advance store, the two businessmen have contacted the schools in the county to find the names of children who are in need. So far, they have 39 names, with more to come, potentially. They are also trying to help children with siblings as well, not leaving anyone out.

“We are trying to make sure the whole family is covered,” Dickess said.

At last year’s giveaway, Advance was full to the brim with children and parents, even though there were only 32 bikes given out.

This year, the special event will be 5 p.m. at the Ironton High School auditorium on Dec. 8.

And many local businesses have gotten on board to ensure the event is a success. The Coal Grove Giovanni’s has agreed to donate 20 pizza, while the Papa John’s in Flatwoods Ky., will donate 30 pizzas. Rax has also donated 120 $5 gift cards.

Dickess Tree Farm has donated a live, decorated Christmas tree and a wreath, each to be raffled off. And others have offered to bake holiday cookies.

Swartz and Dickess hope to have drinks and candy donated to the event.

“To give away a little bag of candy with each bike would be so nice,” Schwartz said.

Volunteers are also needed to help transport the bikes to IHS.

To donate or enter the drawing, visit either store located on Park Avenue.