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Bikes Once Again To Be Donated To Students With Great Attendance Record

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Posted: Friday, June 7, 2019 1:00 pm

Students in the South Bay Union School District who have perfect attendance have a chance to win a bike once again this year. Derek Jones, owner of Derek Jones Insurance on Palm Avenue has once again bought 20 bikes which will be given to three kids at each school. The names of students who have good attendance record are picked out of a hat and the bikes are presented during a special assembly at the end of May.

The bikes are purchased and assembled by Derek Jones and a few helpers that will go to kids in first through sixth grade while the other 20 are donated by North Island Credit Union for children in Transitional Kindergarten and Kindergarten.

Jones first started donating books to reward good attendance 10 years ago. Then he spoke to the attendance person at the district, Terry Loyo, and together they came up with a plan. Jones, who has three boys, saw that they spent a lot of time indoors playing on their X Box. “I wanted kids to be active with bikes,” he said.

Jones was also amazed at the amount of money the district lost when students are absent and wanted to do something about it. “We can’t teach you if you are not here,” said Robert Wells, attendance coordinator at South Bay Union District. “The financial loss is part of it but there is a bigger loss. Kids are not in school. It’s nice that Derek and the others can help and recognize the effort [of those students].”

In the beginning Jones would drive to different Wal Mart stores to buy bikes in his price range. That meant doing a lot of driving since he would only find a few at a time. Now the bikes are ordered from Huffy Bike and are delivered, while the helmets are provided by the district.

Jones has been helping the community for many years by sponsoring basketball, wrestling and football teams at Mar Vista High School, coaching Little League and Pop Warner. Jones’s insurance agency deals mostly with school employees and teachers so the idea of helping schools and students came naturally to him. His hope is that other local businesses will get involved in this program.

On a recent Wednesday Jones and his helpers were in the Burgess Auditorium assembling bikes and waiting for more to arrive. Jones’ helpers were Joe Bell, Ric Gentilella and Taylor Gill. Bell has a business spray painting bikes, Gentilella owned a bike shop and so did Gill. They are all very familiar with bikes, and the assembly takes a few hours but they don’t mind the work. “We like to volunteer and help the kids. I like to see them ride bikes,” said Gentilella who has volunteered for the past six years.

“It’s fun because it’s for the kids,” said Gill.

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