At least one recycling program was rescued from the trash heap.

After both Safford and Thatcher announced that municipal recycling programs were being suspended due to being financially untenable at this time, Victory Fellowship Church stepped up to rescue a recycling program.

No, you won’t be able to bring your empty plastic milk cartons, old newspapers and pizza boxes to the church, but you can take there an old bicycle.

For years, Odd Fellows and Rebekahs took in unwanted and broken bicycles. The bikes were transported to Arizona State Prison-Safford, where inmates made repairs to get the bikes road-ready once again, and then the bikes were distributed on the Saturday before Christmas free to any child who requested.

It was perhaps the most heartwarming story in a season of giving, watching children whose parents or guardians were struggling to make ends meet get at least one present for the holiday.

When that program didn’t occur in 2018, we thought that was the end of ensuring as many children had a bike as possible, regardless of economic status. Then along came Pastor John Neal and the Community Empowerment Organization.

Neal’s Victory Fellowship Church and Theatre is known for giving back to the community. Victory Fellowship puts on a Christmas program with gifts for children — including a special visit by Santa arriving by helicopter (weather permitting) — hosts Toys for Tots, offers free family movies during the summer school break and puts on the summer-ending Family Fun Day, a free event that includes backpacks for children heading back to school.

Now children will have bikes to get themselves to the park or a friend’s house during the summer away from school.

The Gila Valley is an incredibly generous community, always stepping up to help when help is needed. Pastor John and Victory Fellowship continue to be leaders in that generosity.

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