By Kristine gill
A fleet of colorful bikes was a welcome sight Friday for paint-shop workers at General Motors Lordstown Complex who are used to working with four-wheeled vehicles.
“We gave them all custom paint jobs,” joked Phil Bogunia, an alternate shop committee member.
The bikes and the mountain of neatly wrapped gifts behind them were donated — not painted — by employees and will be given to 75 children in the area through the Mahoning Valley Salvation Army. The paint shop also donated $2,100 in the form of an oversized check at a ceremony Friday.
“We have a lot of kids who are going to have an excellent Christmas,” said Patricia Surratte, captain of the Youngstown Salvation Army.
It’s an effort made yearly by area businesses, and GM has participated for the past eight, but last year’s pile of loot was smaller.
“We didn’t have as many bikes,” lamented paint shop area manager Scott Negley.
Sales were down and paint shop workers were cut down to a single shift. But with Cruze sales this year, more employees were able to donate.
“It’s nice to see the bikes back here,” said Bob Satterlee, a zone man at the shop. “It’s nice to see the big truck back.”
Negley agreed. “I know for a lot of us it doesn’t really feel like Christmas until we walk out here and see bicycles,” he said.
Bikes were just one of the items on children’s wish lists this year.
“Zhu Zhu Pets, board games, iPods, PlayStations, play kitchens, Dora the Explorer was big this year and Bob the Builder ... clothes,” said Tina Law, paint shop planner.
Each year, GM workers pick out paper angels with a child’s wish list, then buy and wrap the gifts.
“We try to give them everything they asked for,” Law said.
Surratte was overwhelmed by the donation.
“I can’t believe this,” she said admiring the display. “This is beautiful.”
The Mahoning Valley Salvation Army will serve 3,900 children from 900 families in the area this year. That’s 600 more than last year, but case manager Tiffany Colvin said the organization receives more donations even when times are tough financially.
“The harder they’re hit, the harder they come back,” she said.