Clayton Lillard, 14, an eighth-grader at William P. Hobby Middle School, has collected and refurbished hundreds of used bicycles and donated them as Christmas gifts to children who have a parent in prison. While walking one day with his mother four years ago, Clayton saw a neighbor throwing out two perfectly good bicycles, and thought “it would be really great to fix up those bikes and give them to kids who would really like to have one.” In particular, he had in mind the children of prison inmates. “I knew that those kids hardly got anything for Christmas,” he said. Clayton persuaded a local radio station to announce that he was looking for used bicycles, and soon other news media began reporting on his project. Initially, he received so many donations he had to turn some away, but ended up refurbishing 100 bikes the first year with the help of several friends who came to be known as “Clayton’s Backyard Crew.” Clayton also rounded up donations of bike helmets, locks and other accessories to go with the restored bicycles. His crew repaired and donated 300 more during the following two years. The kids who receive the bicycles, which are distributed through the Angel Tree Prison Ministry, think they’re from their parents in prison, said Clayton. “You can’t imagine the excitement when they find this out!” he said.
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