Local bar collects more than 1,000 bikes for Toys for Tots

WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC (WWAY) — 1,046 bikes filled Wrightsville Beach’s sidewalks Saturday, when Jimmy’s at Red Dogs completed its Toys for Tots bike collection.

Even after being closed more than 200 days during the pandemic, bartender Jared Sales says Jimmy’s was determined to still hold this event.

“This is what we do every year,” said Sales, “and even though its a pandemic, we shouldn’t change it because it’s all love.”

Despite the pandemic–or maybe because of it–this year crushes their previous record of 792. Jimmy Gilleece, the bar’s owner, says this is the fourth year they’ve collected bikes. Looking back at his first year, he says he never could have predicted the turnout.

“After a week, we had two toys and one of them was from my mom,” admitted Gilleece.  “So I was like, we can do better than this. Wrightsville Beach can do better than this. So I said I’d match up to ten bikes. If we had ten bikes donated, I’d match up to ten bikes. And it just blew up. In two weeks we had 200.

The giving has continued every year since.

“Then the next year we had 500. Then last year we had close to 800. Then this year we’re going to hit 1,000.”

Bikes continued trickling in throughout Saturday morning from local businesses, families, and even middle schoolers like Caroline Merrifield, who donated 23 bikes after launching a GoFundMe.

“Well, I just know bikes are really fun that a lot of children want to have for Christmas,” said Merrifield. “It feels really nice knowing that you can give someone a nice present. Because maybe they can’t have anything or just…. it’s something fun to do!”

Bike by bike, the group got closer to their goal….until the sign finally reached four digits. Sales thanked everyone through tears as he updated it.

“We’ve got so many great many people out here in Wrightsville Beach and just this whole community. It’s just mind blowing, man, I never imagined even being able to be open for this because of COVID and here we are.”

1,046 bikes, three 18 wheelers to carry them to new homes, and one community brought together by a bar and bicycles.

Categories: Local, New Hanover, News, Top Stories

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