Fresno holiday giveaways spread cheer on the Sunday before Christmas (video)

The Fresno BeeDecember 22, 2013 

Christmas came a few days early for hundreds of needy families across Fresno and Clovis when they walked away from charity events Sunday with armloads of toys, food and some bicycles.

Kenyanna Hatley, 8, a second-grader at Susan B. Anthony Elementary School in central Fresno, got a shiny maroon and hot green bicycle at the Mathews Harley-Davidson holiday giveaway.

"I've been wanting a bike with pegs," Kenyanna said.

Her mom was thankful: "She's been begging me for one," Betty Hatley said. "I said money is too tight this year."

Businesses, nonprofit and community organizations made the holidays a little brighter for families in need through a number of holiday giveaways on the last Sunday before Christmas.

In central Fresno, the Blackstone Avenue motorcycle dealership gave away 119 bicycles and lots of toys after serving a chili dog lunch to families with children who attend nearby Anthony Elementary.

At the Fresno Convention Center's Valdez Hall in downtown Fresno, thousands of homeless children and their parents dined on a traditional turkey meal with pumpkin pie for dessert before receiving gifts and a bag with juice and snacks.

And in Clovis, another 500 families received a box filled with chicken, milk and other food thanks to the Clovis Rotary Club and the Clovis Police Officer's Association. Sixty lucky children received refurbished bikes.

The motorcycle shop has given to charity in a variety of ways during the holidays for some 20 years and it has evolved into a community event at the store, said owner Cara Mathews.

"Our thing is, if we take care of the community around our store, they will take care of us," said Mathews, whose family has owned and operated the business since 1953.

In downtown Fresno, the Kennedy family of Sanger soaked in the holiday music and entertainment at the 25th annual Hope for the Holidays event organized by HandsOn Central California, the Fresno Unified School District Project ACCESS and the Fresno Housing Authority.

Raquel Kennedy and her daughter, Cecilia, 11, wore red and green headbands with bows as they waited for the Polynesian Club musicians to perform.

"We were able to sing, we got to make cookies and visit with my (social) worker and tell her thank you for all the help," Kennedy said. "I'm grateful to be here."

Her three children, ages 8 to 11, visited with Santa Claus and each told him what the No. 1 item on their Christmas list is: an iPod, a Wii and a Nintendo 3ds.

No surprise, Kennedy said. "Of course it's all technology stuff."

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6495, blee@fresnobee.com or @bonhialee on Twitter.

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