Second- and third-grade students at Highlands Elementary School in Spring Valley experienced an Oprah moment Wednesday when dozens in the audience got a brand new bicycle courtesy of a local nonprofit.
Bikes for Kids, founded by Bill and Debbie Pollakov in 2001, donates bicycles to children who might not otherwise ever receive one.
Students were gathered for an assembly to commemorate the “Fill a Bucket” Book.
Each student was asked to write an essay detailing how they would “fill someone’s bucket,” doing admirable acts and making the world a better place.
Students were informed that 2-3 essays would be selected, and that those winners would receive a bike.
But Bikes for Kids had other plans—and after revealing the winners, and giving away three additional bikes after shouts of “one more bike, one more bike”—the curtain was flung open to showcase about 70 brand new two-wheelers, sending the kids into a frenzy.
Bikes For Kids also had a similar assembly at La Presa Elementary School later in the day.
This year, the group donated about 1,500 bikes to kids across San Diego County.
Last year, they donated bikes in the same fashion at Bancroft Elementary in Spring Valley.
Former Bancroft Principal Lois DeKock was so pleased with the event that she contacted the Pollokovs and nominated Highlands and La Presa to be beneficiaries this year.
The winning essays were written by Carlos Oliveras of Mrs. Siegel’s third-grade class and Elena Serrano of Mrs. Kitaen’s second-grade class. Kaya Eaton (3rd - Mrs. Minter), Justin Lemmon (3rd - Mrs. Minter), Nicole Hernandez (3rd - Mrs. Maggenti) and Aniya Mershon (2nd - Mrs. Kitaen) were also recognized for their essays.
“A lot of students have experienced things that we wish 8- and 9-year-olds haven’t experienced in their lives—death from cancer, poverty, a parent in jail, the one whose mother passed away, all of these touching stories,” said Highlands principal Eileen Cotter.
“When you know them and you know their life stories, and the curtain opens and you can see the joy on their faces, it’s really touching.”
In 2004, Oprah Winfrey on her talk show yelled "Everyone gets a car!" and gave a Pontiac G6 to 276 audience members. In her final season, she did the same, awarding a 2012 Volkswagen Beetle to 275.