FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- For decades, a Fayetteville couple put smiles on children's faces by giving away donated bikes for the holidays. Now a widow, Ann Mathis says this will be her last year hosting the giveaway program in honor of her husband, Moses Mathis.
The Bicycle Man Program has given out 60,000 bicycles to children in the 32 years they've been in service. This year, Mathis says her goal is to give out a thousand bikes one last time.
"Every child should have a bike. Well, we can't supply bikes to every child. But we try to do the best that we can do."
Dozens of volunteers and helpers are working at a warehouse on Wynfare Drive to help Mathis meet that mission. The program begins collecting donated bikes from the community beginning in February, then gives them to underprivileged children picked out by social workers.
Moses Mathis began working on the idea in 1990.
"He started this because he loved kids and he wanted to help children with their self-esteem and community pride," Ann Mathis said. "That's how this all started--with one little bike in my garage 32 years ago."
Mathis said she has worked hard to keep the program going since her husband passed in 2013. But now, she says it's time to retire and spend more time traveling and being with her family. It's a decision she describes as bittersweet.
"You just have to see the smiles on these kids' faces to know how much they appreciate it. I mean, parents can go out and buy a bike and choose a bike that they want their child to have. But here, the child chooses their bike. It's their pride and joy."
"I'm positive it means the world to those kids," said Lance Adrain Hufham, a volunteer for the Bicycle Man. "Because sometimes, life is hard. And just to get that little token, it means the world and I just know it."
Volunteers say they're grateful they got to help Mathis with the giveaway in its final year.
"It's been really nice to come and do something for the community, for these kids who don't have a lot," said Chloe Betts. "I think that there should be more things around that, to do for these kids."
The Bicycle Man says Dec. 15 is the last day to donate bicycles before their big giveaway on Dec. 17. If locals can't donate a bicycle but still want to help, Mathis encourages people to donate money or their time if they know how to repair bikes.