It’s a tale as old as....the goose lawn ornament in the front yard.
That’s what Holbrook resident Jim McBride said when asked how long he has been collecting bikes to give for donation. He gives them to Toys for Tots also known as McCook Toy Box. McBride said of his lawn ornament. “You see that goose out front? That’s how it got started. They put an ad in the paper saying they would give so much credit for so many bicycles you would bring in, and I had so many bicycles. I had one bicycle; I took it in and got a credit of something. And I liked that idea and I wanted that goose. I said ‘You see that bicycle, I’ll just bring you a pickup load of them if I can have that goose.’ I had bought a bunch of them (bicycles) on the Lions Club Auction in Danbury. “
That first year, McBride donated probably close to 30 bicycles. After collecting his goose, McBride didn’t stop donating. The program might have stopped giving store credit, but it hasn’t stopped giving toys out to nearly 1,000 people every Christmas. Bikes, trikes, and almost every toy with wheels including skateboards and scooters are collected and repaired for distribution prior to Christmas.
Now, when McBride goes to area auctions, if there’s a bike for sale for a dollar or two, he buys it and takes it to McCook where Santa’s Elves at the McCook Toy Box repair the toys. “You just leave it at that door. They (the donations) just disappear and they work on them,” said McBride. The bike repair workshop is behind the bright red garage door in the 100 block of East C Street.
“They work on them all year,” said wife, Ida Mae. “They keep track of the kids that get them so they don’t keep coming back for a new bike. “
The volunteers depend upon the generosity and Christmas spirit of McCook and area residents to donate gifts for children whose family may be going through tough times. Elves will accept new and gently-loved toys, dolls, games, puzzles, balls, books, action figures, stuffed animals and other toys.
The toy drive started more than 52 years ago by Dr. Joe Magrath and the late Sharon Snyder as “Toys for Tots,” the McCook Toy Box provides gifts for anyone who has a need. It serves people from the Southwest Nebraska area as well as Colorado and Northern Kansas. The toys are given out at the National Guard Armory located on the east side of McCook.
Even McBride’s brother, Robert, also volunteered over the years to put together and fix the bicycles donated. They do this every year. Sometimes he’ll take parts for bicycles as well, but McBride pointed out “they won’t take a narrow-tire bicycle. They have to be wide-tire because the kids don’t want it. A kid feels out of place if they have a narrow tire bike and all the other kids have wide-tire because they know it’s an old bike.”
It might be a few bicycles over the roughly 17 years of donation, but all those bikes add up over the years. “I probably average eight or ten a year.” That means that McBride has donated close to 200 bicycles. Not only is McBride always on the lookout for bikes and bike parts but people will also bring him bikes to take to McCook. “People will give them to me because they know I do that.”