Children in need get free new wheels in Ohio neighborhood

When the convoy rolled into an Akron, Ohio, neighborhood on Sunday, no one knew what to expect. All the children gathered there received a brand-new bike for Christmas. For some, it was their first ride ever.

The bike donation was made possible by Joe Caliri and Tim House. The two have been best friends since childhood. House said, “There's plenty of people that I went to grade school with who were maybe on assistance or their parents were doing everything just to keep a roof over their head. I'm sure they didn't get much at Christmastime."

So in 2006, they started Elves & More. The organization raises money year-round to buy bicycles, and then the group works with local law enforcement to identify an area where the bikes are needed most. 

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The shipment of bicycles is ready for distribution
CBS
 So why bikes? House said, “I think bikes represent a little freedom. Kids nowadays look out their windows and they see prostitutes or drug dealers. They see people doing things that I wish they didn't have to see. My wish is that they'd get on their bikes and go to the community center where maybe they'll find a mentor -- somebody to make their life a little different.”

Joe Caliri was raised in a house in Akron by a single mother. Caliri said, “I feel like this is part of my journey. This is what I'm supposed to do. You're supposed to help the one behind you.” 

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A little girl tries out her new wheels
CBS
Caliri, now a truck driver, convinced his company to donate the trucks. The two men coordinate hundreds of volunteers.

House recalled, “The first year that we gave bikes away we went to an area that was close to Joe's neighborhood, and he called me that night and said, ‘I want to thank you because you let me bring bikes back to the old neighborhood, and I wouldn't have been able to do that without you’.”

This year, the group gave out 1,300 bikes, giving every receiving child a chance for a Merry Christmas. 

  • Elaine Quijano

    Elaine Quijano was named a CBS News correspondent in January 2010. Quijano reports for "CBS This Morning" and the "CBS Evening News," and contributes across all CBS News platforms. She is based in New York.

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