By Rachel Hawkins
Members of the Marine Corps Color Guard and the Brewer High School drumline led a bicycle parade through Lockheed Martin’s factory in Ft. Worth on Wednesday, Dec. 13.
After the parade, kids eagerly ran across the room, as they were allowed to pick any bicycle their hearts’ desired. The youngsters and their parents were filled with joy as they chose from nearly 200 bikes.
“This is actually pretty exciting,” Angelica Chidas, mother of Xavier Torrez, said. “This is our first time coming, so I really enjoyed it. We actually go to the school inside the Child Study Center. They asked us if we wanted to come and participate.”
“I feel great. I’m finally getting a bike that’s mine,” Xavier said.
Lockheed Martin employees voted on which bikes would receive recognition for decorations. An X-Men themed bike won first place. A Game of Thrones dragon inspired bike and a Disney’s princess Moana bike shared second place
“All of the employees have donated their time, their money, and gifts, and this is an opportunity for us to give that back to the community,” Drea Munoz, financial analysis in overhead control, said. “Once all of these children from the Child Study Center pick a bike, the rest of the bikes will go with the Toys for Tots in the Marine Corps.
“Events like these show how Lockheed Martin is giving back to the community, it shows the generosity of all of our employees, and the difference we are making. There is such a great need, especially this year after all of the hurricane relief efforts. It shows we’re really here, we care, and we are helping.”
Checks funded by employees donations were presented to the following local community organizations: Catholic Charities, Child Study Center, Cowboy Santas, SafeHaven of Tarrant County, The Salvation Army, Star-Telegram Goodfellow Fund, Tarrant Area Food Bank, Toys for Tots, and Veterans of Foreign Wars.
The organizations were chosen to receive the checks by the AERO (Aeronautic Employees Reaching Out) Club. The AERO Club raised more than $180,000 in charitable donations to give back to the Fort Worth community. They also gave more than 1,000 toys and 200 bikes for this event.
“Luckily the Lockheed Martin employees are very generous, so every year around the holidays we ask our employees to dig deep and give a little bit more, on top of what they have already done,” Susan Wright, administer of Lockheed Martin’s AERO Club, said. “During the fall campaign we already raised $1.8 million.
“A lot of these kids may not have a traditional Christmas with so many things going on in their house, but here they get to pick out anything they want. The kids bring the spirit of wonder to our employees, who have decorated and taken so much pride in these bikes. This is a big and exciting day for us.”
Lockheed Martin is a proud supporter of the military.
“When the United States Marine Corps took on the Toys for Tots program it was just a natural partnership,” Wright said. “This has been a tough year for everybody. They have gone through natural disasters with hurricane after hurricane, and to continue to see the generosity of our employees, is just spectacular.”
After the donated toys are given to Toys for Tots, they are then dispersed to different charities where the kids and families have already been pre-qualified.
“From this employee driven charity, you can see that our employees are very generous,” Linda Rigdon, material accountant at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, said.
“This is absolutely my favorite event we do throughout the year. This event means I can do what I was taught and raised to do. In a small country town, you give back. The more you give, the more you receive. All of us who work here are pretty fortunate, because there are so many out there who are not fortunate to have good jobs or insurance. It’s my way of giving back. I’ve been doing this since it started, and I love to give. At the end of the day, my reward is seeing the smiles on those kids’ faces.”