highland sc bikesLONG BRANCH, NJ - ­ Family & Children's Service (FCS), Monmouth County's oldest nonprofit social service agency, today teamed up with representatives of Wells Fargo Advisors® and the Highlands Business Partnership to deliver twenty new bicycles and bicycle helmets to students at Highlands Elementary School where many of the students in attendance and their families are still recovering from Superstorm Sandy.


"This is a wonderful day!" Superintendent of Highlands Schools, Dr. Susan Compton told the group of students, parents and administrators gathered to receive the new bikes. "After the devastation of Sandy, and its impact on the Highlands' community, it is simply wonderful that these children, whose families lost everything, now have the opportunity to own a new bicycle."

The bicycles, which varied in a size and type, were purchased and assembled by more than 100 employees of Wells Fargo Advisors®, Central Jersey Region and their banking partners during a recent team building exercise. Organizer Mark Stoll reached out to FCS to see if the agency could connect the new bikes to children in underserved communities. Paul Stach, Vice Chair of FCS Board of Directors, said Highlands was a natural choice.

"We have a long and trusted relationship with Highlands Elementary School that goes back more than 15 years to the launch of our in-school volunteer program Reading Buddies, and more recently, Healthy Buddies," Paul said. "All of our programs have been warmly received and embraced by the administration and staff at Highlands, so we knew this would be the perfect community to benefit from the bike giveaway."

Reading Buddies is an intergenerational child literacy program that pairs specially trained senior volunteers with small groups of at-risk elementary school children in the classroom to advance early reader's literacy skills and build confidence. It's currently operating in 18 Monmouth County Schools.  Similarly, Healthy Buddies pairs adult volunteers with at-risk elementary school children in the classroom to promote healthy behaviors and fight childhood obesity by modeling proper nutrition and encouraging physical activity. It now serves four schools and is growing.

Highlands principal Rosemary Schutz said many families at Highlands are still not in their homes following Sandy, and others have been displaced for a second time while their homes are being raised.  She says the new bikes will be distributed later this week to students whose families express a need for a new bike.  In addition, the Highlands Business Partnership (HBP) is donating new bicycle helmets for each of the 20 children who receive a new bike. Garrett Newscomb, owner of Kranky Cycles in Highlands who is supplying the helmets, says they are one-size-fits-all to ensure safety for everyone.

Dr. Compton concluded the event by praising the partnership between all of the various business and organizations involved, adding that today¹s bike giveaway is a wonderful example of what a community can do when it pools its resources.