Bikes donated to community in police effort

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URBANA, Ill. (WAND)-- The Urbana Police Department made sure many people were prepared for summer on Wednesday.

Officers gave out more than 150 bicycles to local people.

Lt. Mike Fitzgerald says, "We collect bikes we like to get them back into the neighborhood, so we give them out for free," Lt. Mike Fitzgerald said.

The community loved it. One man said the bicycles will help keep his children active during the summer months.

"It'll give my daughter or my son a chance to have a new bicycle and to be able to move about the neighborhoods and parks," he said. 

Another man decided to wait more than an hour in line just to give back to a teen who attends his church. He said the teen deserves it. 

"He found a bike and he turned it into police," the man added. "He could have kept it, but he thought it was probably stolen. So I think he'll be real happy with this."

Even thought officers and community members had a blast, it did more than just give people a new ride.

"It's a great way for them to get to know us and know that we are human and that we are likable people," Fitzgerald said. "We have officers who are helping people showing them the bikes, and showing them how to fix the bikes who might have some issues. It's a good way to get out and meet some people."

That's why the Urbana Police Department is this week's Spirit of Central Illinois recipient.

"It's a good feeling because a lot of these people have ways to get to work or get to see people, so they come here to get a bike," Fitzgerald said. "Especially with warm weather coming on. It's a good time to give these bikes back."

Anyone with a person to nominate for the Spirit of Central Illinois award can send an email to jacklynn.boatman@wandtv.com.

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