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Foundation taking donations to give bikes to children

“Everybody remembers that first bike,” said Dianne Cruse. “It’s a wonderful thing.”
Each year about 100 deserving children who attend a Picayune or Pearl River Central Elementary school receive a bicycle from the Fred Cruse III Foundation.
For the fifth year the foundation is gearing up to put a bike under the tree of about 100 children whose families can’t afford one.
The act of giving bikes to disadvantaged children has been occurring in Pearl River County for much longer than five years however. Previous to the formation of the foundation, Fred Cruse III donated the bikes to the schools anonymously for 15 years until his passing in 2010. Dianne Cruse said he started the effort because he felt that every child who wanted a bike should get one. His generosity didn’t stop there. He also donated stuffed animals to the police department and the Department of Human Services so officers and staff would have them on hand to give to children during stressful situations, such as if an adult was being arrested.
But after Fred Cruse III passed away the program almost ended. Dianne Cruse said it was former council member Jerry Bounds that enticed her to form the foundation and keep the annual effort alive.
The program works by collecting donations from the community, which the foundation uses to purchase bicycles from the local Walmart at a discount. The bikes are given to children in kindergarten to sixth grade, so they come in three sizes; 16 inch, 20 inch and 24 inch, Cruse said.
The list of children in need is provided to the foundation from each school. Bikes are then delivered to the child by the school with the help of baseball and softball team members, Cruse said. While the bikes will be distributed later this week, donations to help fund the bikes will be accepted until Dec. 23.
Donations of cash, checks or even Walmart gift cards will be accepted at Fred’s Pharmacy, located at 207 Kirkwood St. in Picayune.
Cruse said even if she does not receive enough funds, she will still donate bikes to the 100 children on this year’s list.
“I’m just really grateful of everyone who participated and helped us with this,” Cruse said.