Fayetteville, N.C. — Each year at Christmas, a gentle soul known as the Bicycle Man gives away bicycles to the needy children in his community. The great bicycle giveaway is a true Christmas tradition in Fayetteville.
It looks like Christmas: There are grown-ups in Santa hats. And feels like Christmas: Friday was cold enough for hoods and earmuffs.
Alayjha Dove was among those selected by her school to be one of the beneficiaries of the generosity. Some Grinch stole her bicycle earlier this year.
"I was so sad I started crying," she said.
That bike was her ticket to freedom. "It's like my transportation to ride around with my friends and have fun," she said.
Inside a drab and drafty warehouse on Friday, she got her first Christmas present – a new set of wheels.
There were 942 bicycles awaiting new owners, all donated by the community and fixed up by a saint who wears a white beard and gets around on a scooter. He's Moses Mathis, the Bicycle Man.
At 75 years old, he's been giving bikes away for 22 Christmases.
"I love the kids," he said. "I love the smiles on their faces."
Tyson Davis, 9, couldn't wait to sit in the seat of his new ride. "I Just like to feel the air hit me," he said.
Alayjha found a perfect pink-and-purple specimen.
"I do it from the heart," Mathis said. "The payment comes from today."
Mathis worked this year out of a warehouse off John Smith Road near Hope Mills. It's his fifth donated location in as many years. He prays to someday find a permanent home for his work.
"The Good Lord’s good," he said. "I just put it in his hands. I say I need a building, and he always comes up with a building.”