ING and TSA give bikes to kids

ING Direct employees experience the joy of giving.

by David Kauffman, Captain –

Anna Vega smiles after receiving a new bike in Tucson. [Photo by Chris Ratliff]

On Feb. 22, 2010, 250 ING Direct bank employees from around the country converged on the Westin La Paloma Resort in Tucson, Ariz. Their conference included a day in which attendees were asked to build and customize a bicycle. In an enormous room, 42 teams built bicycles—21 girls’ and 21 boys’ bikes—which they donated to The Salvation Army.

Captain Erin Kauffman, representing the Tucson Amphi Corps and Community Center, accepted the bikes for delivery to needy children. She quoted some statistics about the kids who would receive the bikes.

“These children come from a neighborhood in which only 66 percent of high school students actually graduate. There is a 48 percent chance that the young women from this neighborhood will be pregnant by the age of 14. A staggering 95 percent of these kids qualify for the free lunch programs at their schools. All of us here would agree that we are working together to make a difference in the life of a child—maybe even one bike at a time,” said Kauffman.

She continued, “We have a surprise for you. We’ve brought with us the children who will be receiving your bikes tonight!”

The room erupted with noise as the kids flooded in, some running toward the bikes. ING employees began working to get bicycle helmets on the kids, who couldn’t wait to ride their new bikes around the conference area.

After dropping off their bikes to be loaded on an Army truck, donated for the evening by Tucson ARC Administrator Major George Beauchamp, the children were the guests of honor at dinner. As they prepared to leave, they received a standing ovation. One of the kids commented, “I feel like a rock star!”

Just before they departed, one of the company leaders invited the children to sing. Kauffman led them in a new version of Jesus Loves Me. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room as the dinner guests cheered them on.

The event was a blessing for all involved—for the ING Direct employees who left with memories and the joy of giving, and for the children who received new bicycles thanks to their generosity.

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