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Students win bicycles from Pittsburgh police for essays about doing something nice

| Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012, 6:16 p.m.
Carlos Stanford, 7, of the East Hills, smiles as he selects a new bike during the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police's annual Holiday Bike Giveaway at the Zone 5 Station in East Liberty, Saturday, December 15th, 2012. This year, 130 brand new bikes were donated by Maris G. Mangulis, P.E. of CH2M Hill Inc. for the event. Children also received safety helmets from UPMC Children's Hospital and Safe Kids Networks. Carlos, who attended the event with his mother, Shonte Williams, was happy with the bicycle. 'I like it!' said Carlos about his new wheels. Keith Hodan | Tribune-review

Angelina Burnsworth would help children in need by setting up a toy stand to give them free toys.

“I'm very, very proud of her,” Erica Burnsworth, 29, of Brookline said of her daughter, a first-grader at Brookline Elementary. “She's smart enough to know other kids need help.”

Angelina's idea also captured the attention of Pittsburgh police, who awarded her and nearly 120 other children free bicycles on Saturday as prizes for their winning essays or pictures with the theme: “Doing something nice for someone without expecting anything in return.”

Angelina said she's going to give her older bicycle to her younger sister, Erianna, 5.

The bicycles were donated to the Pittsburgh Police Department by CH2M Hill Inc., a Robinson engineering and design company. The company provided some of its own money and conducted fundraisers, according to company area manager Maris Mangulis, to cover the cost of the bikes.

The company also had donated another 150 bikes at another event last year.

“It's a great feeling,” Mangulis said. “I always had a bike as a kid. I can't imagine not having one.”

Pittsburgh police distributed the bikes at the Zone 5 Station in Highland Park in the 11th year of the event, though it's the first year that they distributed new bicycles. Previously, police collected and had refurbished donated bikes or ones left in the lost and found.

Vonda Reynolds, 8, of Wilkinsburg, a second-grader at Pittsburgh Faison K-5 school, had a simple winning message in her essay, “When people are alone, you don't leave them alone, you go have fun with them.”

Charles Powell, 10, of Homewood, a fifth-grader at Faison Elementary, wrote about how he carried groceries for a 79-year-old neighbor and refused money for his deed.

“It brought tears to my eyes, to see that he stopped playing football with his friends to help her,” said Charles' father, Jonathan, 45.

The police department collects entries from schools, structured after-school programs and faith-based organizations, police spokeswoman Diane Richard said.

Police talked with the students on Saturday, posed for pictures and received hugs from grateful youngsters as they wheeled their prizes away.

Students also received bike helmets donated by Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh and Safe Kids Networks, which seeks to prevent childhood injury. The James Harrison Family Foundation provided liners for the helmets designed to lessen the possibility of head injuries.

“These children are our future. We want to show children we care about them,” Richard said.

Some children continued the messages of generosity included in their entries. One child who picked up her bike on Saturday promised to donate it to Toys For Tots, while another said a needy friend deserved it more than she did.

Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or bvidonic@tribweb.com.

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