Instead of the usual after-hours holiday party full of good food and drinks — although these were on tap — equipment and event rental professionals in North Carolina also gathered on Dec. 1, 2021, for a good cause: to build and donate bikes for children.
The ARA of North Carolina’s “Bikes for Kids” event was hosted at True Value Rental, Greensboro, N.C., where “it truly was a great night of networking and fellowship,” says Shannon Thomas, CERP, owner, Creative Solutions Special Events, Belmont, N.C., who also serves as ARA of North Carolina president. “People could participate by either making a donation to purchase bikes or they could come and put bikes together. I think we did 25 bicycles, and Mark [Whitesell, CERP, owner of the event’s host location] works with a group that was going to distribute them in central North Carolina. It was just a feel-good night.”
Thomas credits the bike-building event idea to fellow ARA of North Carolina board member Kevin Marchin, owner, M&M Sales, Belmont, N.C. “We had a brainstorming session, and Kevin had a great idea for something that would benefit the communities we live in and serve. He made all the arrangements and worked with Mark to secure the location,” Thomas says.
“The idea stemmed from my early days of competitive cycling,” Marchin says. “We were sponsored by a local bike shop, and they were always slammed at Christmas with the need to assemble kids’ bikes for customers. We’d all come in after-hours and help the owners with assembly, and it quickly turned into a fun event. I thought the ARA of North Carolina could possibly recreate some of that camaraderie with an event that required some aspects of teamwork and fun for a good cause.”
Attendees agreed that the event offered a terrific balance of fun and community service.
“We are always into helping people that need help, for sure, and this was a great idea to be able to get something for kids at Christmas,” says Hudson Essick, inside sales representative, H&E Equipment Services, Winston-Salem, N.C. “The bikes were super easy to put together, and we had plenty of help. We had fun. They took care of us with the western-style burger and taco food truck and everything, which was great. It was 100 percent worth our time participating. I would definitely do it again, no doubt about it.”
The program was such a success, a repeat next Christmas looks likely.
“It was very well-received, and everyone had fun. Hopefully we can expand it for next year,” Marchin says.