Although Inner Southeast Portland is home to some of Portland's elite, many of the students attending Grout Elementary School live on the less affluent side of the tracks.
Some of these kids got a big, pre-Christmas surprise on December 19th when they were called into Grout's gym and saw fifty - that's right, 50 - brand-new, gleaming bicycles awaiting them.
'Isn't this amazing?' exclaimed Susan McElroy, Principal of Grout Elementary. 'We've been able to offer this, thanks to David Yandell of Radio Cab. He's the one who organized our fall backpack giveaway, and pizza served by Portland Police officers.'
Through quiet investigation, McElroy told THE BEE, they were able to figure out which of their kids, in kindergarten through third grade, came from families who couldn't afford to buy a bicycle for them.
The young students' eyes lit up as they filed into the room and saw the lineup of bicycles. 'They're all brand new bicycles,' remarked McElroy. 'The little bikes have training wheels. The kids will also get helmets.'
When we asked Yandell why he created this program, he commented, 'Every kid should have a bicycle.'
Turning to the assembled students, Yandell announced, 'We're not giving away bikes today. You think these are free? They're not. We're sharing an opportunity with you guys. I get people to share with me, so I can share with you guys.'
The plain-speaking donor continued, 'I don't like use the word 'give'. That means somebody 'doesn't have'. We believe you guys have a lot to offer the community as you grow up. I need you guys to learn to share with other people. When you let someone ride your bicycle for a few minutes, you're sharing. We're here sharing with you today. You share, too, OK?'
Yandell then tested them, asking the kids, 'What is the word?'
'Sharing!' The kids screamed.
'Oh, one more thing,' Yandell added, 'remember - never, under no circumstances, ride a bike without a helmet. You understand this?'
One by one, the students were first fitted with a helmet, and then received a bicycle. Because of the pelting, sleet-filled rain falling outside, the new riders were allowed to take their bikes for a spin in the gymnasium.
Several of the parents who came by to pick up the bike their child had been given and take it home, had tears in their eyes, as they watched their little ones zoom around on their new bicycles.
While his three daughters were taking a test drive, Gennadiy Bogza said, 'I really appreciate all of these people who have brought these bikes for all these kids. It is very good to give at Christmas time. It makes our family very happy.'
The Grout bike program was also made possible through the donations of Mr. James Meyer, head architect at OPSIS Architecture, and his employees.