WALDORF, Md. – Once a year at C. Paul Barnhart Elementary School, Santa wears blue when the brothers of the Omicron Delta Sigma Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. make a special delivery to the school.
Fraternity members have been donating bicycles to Barnhart students for the past decade through a community service project that celebrates the spirit of the season. “The fundraising process starts in August,” Ricky Lawrence, the chapter treasurer, said. “Around November we know how much money we have and how many bikes we can get.” The chapter has a partnership with Walmart stores in Clinton and Waldorf where the bikes are purchased. The brothers also partner with Mattawoman and Benjamin Stoddert middle schools and volunteer throughout the year.
The chapter’s bike donation is exclusively for Barnhart, Lawrence said. Teachers and counselors nominate students to receive a bicycle, Erin Travers, school counselor at Barnhart, said. “It’s an opportunity to give something big to good kids,” she said. The selected students are not necessarily from families in need, rather they are chosen on other criteria, Principal Brian King, Ed.D, said. The students selected are diligent workers who are helpful to their teachers and kind to their peers.
“We have a lot of great traditions at Barnhart, and this ranks right at the top,” King said. He cited the annual program as an excellent example of an organization dedicated to a school in its community. The example set by the brothers of the Omicron Delta Sigma chapter is one King believes many Barnhart students emulate, including those who recently received a bike.
“Every day you come to school, and you try your best,” King said in his address to the students. “You listen to your teachers; you work hard; you help your friends and that’s what makes outstanding community members.”
Ahmar’e Gibson, a fourth grader, said he will enjoy riding his new bike. “It gives you a little freedom,” he said. “And a little bit of a workout.” Tanya Theriot, mother of Olivia, a third grader, said now that Olivia has a bike of her own, it will likely spur more opportunities for all members of the family to be more active. “It’s going to get all of us outside more often,” Theriot said.
Along with the bicycle, each student received a stocking filled with candy and a Walmart gift card to purchase a bike helmet.