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Surprise! Free Bikes for These Students

Each of the more than 120 third graders at Stevenson Elementary School was surprised with a new bicycle, helmet and bike lock last week.

Stevenson was selected by Long Beach-based Velo Allegro Cycling Club and the YMCA to be recipients of the Bikes for Kids program.

Velo Allegro began the program this year to promote cycling, health and civic responsibility in Long Beach. The group chose Stevenson for an essay contest for third graders. The students were told that only one essay contest winner would be selected in each class, and each student wrote to the theme, "What can I do to make my community a better place, and how would a new bike help me?"

After the winning essays were read aloud and the winners honored during a school assembly, all of the bikes were unveiled, much to the surprise of the third graders who learned that each of them would receive a new bike.

Velo Allegro members and local businesses contributed more than $10,000 for the new bikes, locks and helmets. Club members also volunteered to assemble the bikes.