CINCINNATI — Two hundred Avondale kids got an early gift this holiday season, when Rodney Summers decided to give away free bicycles for families struggling to buy gifts this year.
"We decided, me and Rodney here, and another brother," said Sil Watkins, pastor of the Church of the Living God, where the kids came to pick up their shiny new gifts, "would make a contribution to our community."
Stanley Newell, childhood friends with Summers, said he remembers growing up in Avondale without much himself. He said he and Summers hoped to make an impact on their community this Christmas.
Now, Summers is a local business owner who declined to a full interview for the event because he said he preferred the attention be focused on the kids.
"Wish I could’ve done 300 but I can’t afford that!" he said.
As parents walked into the church with their children, the smiles on their faces were exactly what Watkins said he was hoping to bring to light.
"Put a smile on a kid's face," he said. "Let our kids get something. Let them know we got something."
Newell said he and Summers' goal was just to help kids in his community to have more opportunities.
"We didn't have a lot coming up ourselves," he said. "We know what it's like for us to do something like this. It's very positive."
This is the first year this kind of donation has happened through the church, but Watkins said that only shows to him that the community has a long way to go.
"That tells me we ain't doing enough," said Watkins. "That's what it tells me. We need to do more."
Watkins said he hopes other local business owners besides Summers, and other community members, might step in to help increase the number of bikes donated in years to come. He said the church hopes to make the donation an annual event.
"If you football players, CEOs, you Fortune 500 companies want to make a contribution next time, feel free to call us," said Watkins.