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Salvage Santa continues holiday tradition of assembling bikes

Published: Dec. 12, 2020 at 4:33 PM CST
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) -

It starts from scratch.

Just pieces and parts in a box waiting to be assembled, waiting to bring a smile to a local kid’s face.

Making those smiles possible is our local Salvage Santa and many volunteers, assembling bikes Saturday morning, which is an ongoing Christmas tradition.

“We’ve been doing this over 40 years,” said Mike Jones, nicknamed Salvage Santa.

This year’s mission is the same.

“We have over 200 bicycles here today to put together,” Jones said.

Get these bikes to as many deserving children as possible.

“I feel like when times are tough some families can’t get presents for their children,” said volunteer Kaial Hajik. “I feel like this is an amazing opportunity, especially during a pandemic it’s even harder and scarce to find toys for your children.”

What is different this year is Salvage Santa’s sleigh, so to speak. The pandemic is preventing him from holding his usual event where he gives the bikes away but there is still enough help and holiday spirit to assist local organizations.

“We get them to all the entities, we got the Glenwood Center, Early Education and Care, The Knights of Pythias, some teachers that are distributing them for us. We’ve got a lot of people,” said Jones.

Salvage Santa said this wouldn’t be possible without the community.

“You know this is Bay County, the ‘giving-est’ community in the whole wide world,” said Jones. “The best community in the whole wide world. Bay Countians are tough people, and giving people, loving, kind, caring people. It’s what we’re all about.”

Those giving people represent what Christmas is all about.

“Christmas spirit should be about giving, and this is definitely giving in to that,” said volunteer Natalie Villalovos.

The man in red, or green this Saturday morning, hopes the bikes will be a huge hit on Christmas morning.

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