Christmas came a little early for 8 Western Middle School students on Wednesday.
The Silver Shield Association, the union representing Greenwich police officers, presented the students bicycles in recogition of the students perseverance and achievements. None of the nearly 350 sixth- and seventh-graders who filled the school auditorium Wednesday morning knew what the assembly was about.
When Principal Terry Starr-Klein announced that 278 students in the classes made honor roll, the students began cheering. The cheering became louder when Silver Shield President Sgt. James Bonney announced that the selected students were to receive refurbished bicycles that had been recovered by police and donated by Greenwich residents.
For the past several weeks, retired Lt. Tom Keegan has been collecting bicycle donations. Dave's Cycles in Cos Cob donated the labor to tune up the bikes which looked brand new.
Students receiving the bikes were sixth-graders Joselyn Vega, Katherine Alvarez, Vanessa Villacis and Mehka Williams, and seventh-graders Augusto Gardel, Emma Lawson, Matthew Williams and Brian Abrego.
"I'm very excited. My old bike is rusted and kind of small," Augusto said.
The giveaway was the second this year by the Silver Shield Association. Bonney said more bikes will be awarded to students at Central Middle School next year. The association relies upon the schools to identify the deserving students.
Keegan, who organized the giveaways, said that the department used to auction unclaimed bicycles "but we found that these bike wholesalers were buying them up and shipping them to Africa. We thought why not keep the bikes in Greenwich." And now with more awareness, Keegan said "we didn't realize how the community would embrace this program. I had a family from the backcountry that donated 3 bikes and another family that donated 4 or 5 bikes."
Keegan said residents who want to donate bikes can call him at 203-869-9519.