For most, the holiday season is about the spirit of giving. Nowhere was that spirit more evident than at the Reno Housing Authority’s annual Christmas party, which included a special surprise for children in attendance.
RHA’s holiday party includes a card-making event for children residing in the organization’s public, affordable housing, along with holiday treats, prizes for the most artistic card designs, and a visit from Santa.
This year, however, thanks to the Reno Bike Project‘s Free Wheels for Kids Program, RHA surprised the children with a bike along with brand new warm winter clothing donated by various community members.
Mishon Hurst, RHA’s Deputy Executive Director, said the card-making and party afterward promote a greater sense of community and recognize the children’s artistic abilities.
Sometimes a bicycle or coat or even a helmet is a luxury that the kids don’t get otherwise.”
She was especially enthusiastic about the new bikes, which exhibited the community’s support for the children and gave recipients a sense of ownership.
“I’m watching these kids pick out coats, and their eyes are lighting up at something a lot of people take for granted. Some of our lower-income families cannot afford brand new coats. [The kids] were so happy [the coats] were brand new with tags on them. That seems so simple and small to some of us, but to these kids, it’s huge,” said Hurst.
When the children saw the bikes, they immediately broke out into massive grins and started trying them out. Some kids needed help mounting the bikes, while others hopped on and rode around the room, showing off their skills.
Parents watched their children try out the new bikes, providing a steady hand if a rider wobbled. When one girl fell, Santa came over and comforted her. She perked up after he handed her a candy cane.
RHA’S Community Outreach Coordinator, Brent Boynton, said the smiles on the kids’ faces made the holiday event enjoyable, and he was grateful to the community for providing the bikes, coats, and helmets.
“The people we serve don’t have a whole lot of money. And sometimes a bicycle or coat or even a helmet is a luxury that the kids don’t get otherwise. So to see the kids get to come in and choose a bike and then to get to see them in their neighborhoods riding their bikes just like everybody else [is what makes this special to me].”
RHA helps about 4,000 families afford to live in the Reno-Sparks area and uses events like the holiday party to develop a sense of community among residents.
Tabitha Mueller is a freelance writer and multimedia journalist based out of Reno, Nevada. She is fascinated by storytelling, place, and the intersection of narrative and data analysis and holds a bachelor’s degree in Geography and English and American Literatures from Middlebury College. When she is not tracking down a story or listening to podcasts, you can find her hiking Nevada’s gorgeous terrain, perusing local bookstores, playing Quidditch, and discovering Reno’s hidden stories.