- Associated Press - Saturday, September 23, 2017

TUPELO, Miss. (AP) - It may seem a little early to be thinking about Christmas, but not for Tupelo High School automotive collision repair students.

Although students in the collision repair classes at the THS career and technical education center usually apply their skills to restoring and repairing cars, this fall, they’re using their talents to fix up donated bikes to give away as Christmas gifts to children in need come December.

Derek Bradley, collision repair teacher at THS, and his students have been collecting bikes since school started, and so far, they have 25 bikes to work on.

Bradley said he wanted his students to have the opportunity to do community service while still practicing the skills they’ve learned in class.

“I’ve been wanting to do something for the community for some time. Even if you don’t have money, you can still give your time and talent,” Bradley said. “I want my students to get the feeling of doing something good for other people.”

Some of the bikes need minor work like new paint, but others need major repairs. Bradley said his students are doing it all and putting their own personal touches on the bikes along the way.

On Sept. 14, THS senior Alexis Baskins worked to remove paint from pieces of one of the bikes. She then sanded them down, preparing to paint them Tupelo blue and gold.

“I always like doing stuff like this to help out the community,” Baskins said. “I love being able to give it away and make somebody else happy.”

Later, Baskins and her classmates will have to reassemble the bike and replace its handlebars. They’ll also give the bike a new seat and chain, making it good as new for someone on Christmas morning.

THS junior Ladarius Duncan said the project is a win-win for him and his classmates. Duncan said he likes that he’s sharpening his collision repair skills, but at the same time working on a meaningful project.

“We’re doing it to show our skills, but it is also going to help other people,” Duncan said. “It’s going to help us on cars, too.”

Gihon Robinson, a senior collision repair student at THS, said working on the bikes made him reflect on one Christmas morning during his childhood. He said he remembers not having many gifts to open that Christmas morning, so he knows the impact the bikes he and his classmates are working on will make on the children who receive them.

“Just knowing that you’re giving them to someone and helping those kids, that’s a good feeling,” Robinson said.

Bradley said he plans to work with local organizations, his students and other teachers at THS to identify children who will receive the bikes.


Information from: Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, https://djournal.com

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