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Children take home bikes from Hall Sheriff’s Office giveaway
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Briana Andres, 3, is all smiles Monday, Dec. 18, 2017, as Santa Claus gives her a new bicycle at the Hall County Sheriff's Office. This year the Hall County Sheriff's Office raised about $10,000 and gave away 136 bikes to needy kids for Christmas. - photo by Scott Rogers

A week before Christmas, Santa Claus was trying to fit three bicycles in the back of an SUV in the Hall County Courthouse parking lot.

If he can fit his bag of goods on his sleigh, he was going to find a way to get these bikes in this Dodge Durango.

Capt. Cindy Mustachio said the Hall County Sheriff’s Office is in its 20th year of giving bicycles and helmets to children for Christmas. It began in 1997 with “a bunch of deputies just getting their own pocket money together,” she said.

“This is our biggest number yet,” Mustachio said, as they were set to give 136 bicycles this year.

The sheriff’s office began taking applications and looking for needy families in November. The program is funded by private donations, staff donations and funds raised by the Sheriff’s Show and Shine car show. Wal-Mart of Oakwood and the National Christian Foundation also support the program.

“Recipients of the program are identified through local schools, churches and social service organizations such as the Boys & Girls Clubs, (Court-Appointed Special Advocates) and the Georgia Sheriff’s Youth Homes,” Sgt. Stephen Wilbanks wrote in a news release.

Santa walked through a hallway of inmate cells to the courthouse parking deck Monday afternoon, where dozens of bikes were parked and ready to go to a new home.

Tabitha Simental was there to assist Santa in loading the bikes in her SUV, with the bikes going to Selena, 16, Isabella, soon to be 13, and Christian, 12.

The family has faced a number of hardships recently, including a father-in-law in the hospital.

“I’m very blessed,” Simental said, adding she is thankful for the sheriff’s office program.

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