The sun was shining on Monday for a special day at Heart Butte Public Schools.
Around 120 bikes and helmets were dropped off at the front door of the school thanks to bike shops from around the state and Essential Eats Distributors in Missoula.
After the bikes were lined up along the wall, the students were brought out class by class to pick their new ride.
Sara Wecker, executive director of Essential Eats, started working on this program in October.
Already a poverty-stricken community, she said the record-breaking harsh winter made the need even more clear. The bikes are just one way to help kids who otherwise might not have a way to get outside.
“The school is a mile out of town. It gives the kids a chance to ride their bike to school. It levels the playing field, everyone will have a bike,” she said.
She added that families are big and so if one child had a bike, a sibling could use it as well.
Bob Giordano is the bike program director for Free Cycles Missoula. He said bikes provide freedom.
“A lot of people remember their first bike or having a bike when they are young,” he said. “It’s exercise. We really want kids to be active these days.”
Volunteers helped make sure all of the bikes fit each kid and even gave maintenance lessons.