Liberty students riding in style

Nonprofit gives away 21 bicycles

LIBERTY — Local nonprofit organization Shots for Tots donated 21 bicycles to Liberty’s E.J. Blott Elementary School students Wednesday.

Shots for Tots President Joan Dalessandro and Vice President Debbie Minniti organized the event, in addition to raising funds to purchase bicycles for children at Christmas through the Marines Corps’ Toys for Tots program.

“It just feels really good in the heart,” said Minniti, transportation coordinator for Liberty Local School District. “This is when we can actually see the kids get the bikes and their excitement just fills your heart.”

Students entered into a raffle to have their names pulled from grades PK-6.

First-graders Amiya Jordan and Nicholas Galford said they were happy and excited once they rolled their new bikes to a line of others in the gymnasium. The bikes were taken home after school. The reactions from each group of winners vary depending on their ages, Minniti said.

She said some of them aren’t as excited as the younger students.

“Their eyes glow,” Minniti said. “They’re excited, and I just got the best two hugs today that I’ve gotten in a long time.”

Throughout the year, Shots for Tots organizes various fundraising activities, including raffles, golf outings, poker runs, sip and paints and nights at the races. The events help raise money to support their mission of donating bikes to the Toys for Tots program.

Over the past four years, Shots for Tots has donated more than 1,000 bicycles, with nearly 100 of them going to Liberty PK-6 students.

Dalessandro and Minniti started Shots for Tots about 13 years ago and became an official nonprofit in 2017.

“We do fundraisers all year long for money to buy bikes for kids who are less fortunate during the holidays,” Minniti said. “And then we donate those to the Marines’ Toys for Tots program. About four years ago, we decided ‘Hey let’s do this’ for our local schools. So we’ve been doing about 20 bikes a year now, for about four years.”

Have an interesting story? Contact Daniel Newman by email at dnewman@tribtoday.com. Follow him on X, formerly Twitter, @TribDNewman.


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