The Williamsport Regional Airport usually is focused on winged craft. Yet there were plenty of wheels on the ground there on Saturday morning.
State Department of Transportation employees and other volunteers gathered for several hours at the Penn College Aviation Center to build bikes as part of the second annual Bill Craver Bikes for Tykes campaign.
The campaign honors Bill Craver, a one-time PennDOT employee who passed away in March and made a habit of donating several bikes to Toys for Tots every year.
Volunteers assembled 124 bikes for the Marine Corps League Toys for Tots program this year. The drive put together 68 bikes last year.
Though most of the bikes were built, tweaked and had their tires pumped up on Saturday, the Craver campaign is far more than a one-day commitment for those involved. Nearly the whole year was needed to bring together so many brand-new bikes in time for distribution during the Christmas season.
More than $6,000 was raised to buy the bikes, a fundraising effort that started in February, according to Rick Mason, PennDOT public information officer.
"There's just too many people to thank," said volunteer Gene McGill. "We had lunches twice a month, a whole smorgasbord laid out at the (PennDOT) office. We raised over $3,500 from those."
Volunteers Al Uscowskas, Mark Robbins and Lenny Frye did the cooking for the bimonthly spreads, McGill said.
Gary and Terry Smith, of Ye Olde Meeting Place in Milton, raised further funds for the effort through lunches at their tavern and at the District 3 PennDOT office in Montoursville.
"We wouldn't have been even close to raising this much without them," McGill said.
McGill and Steve Betts, of Montoursville, purchased and housed the bikes.
"Now that I have room in my garage my wife will expect me to do something," Betts said. "I counted about 40 in there put together - we started buying them in July, and I'd go pick them up all of them were from Sears and Kmart, they really worked with us on pricing."
"This has been almost like a full-time job," McGill said. "You've got to coordinate so much."
The Williamsport Marine Corps League detachment came on Saturday to pick up the bikes.
"(The bikes) all stay very local," McGill said. "Muncy, Milton, Williamsport, Lock Haven we don't know who they go to."
McGill knows one story of a woman who had called in to thank the volunteers after last year's campaign.
"Her husband was sent overseas and her son was distraught. He wanted a bicycle for Christmas, and she couldn't afford it - they ended up getting one of our bikes," he said.
"The volunteerism, the community-minded spirit - it's heartwarming," Mason said. "To see all these bikes go to people this Christmas from this magnanimous effort."