At KPMS a sea of bicycles awaits kids as gifts of the Gig Harbor Kiwanis and the Washington Corrections Center for Women whose inmates renovate used bikes and make them like “new.” Photo by Hugh McMillan, KP News.

The last week of August, a team of Gig Harbor Kiwanis Club members invaded the commons area of Key Peninsula Middle School and turned it into a department store. Tables were burgeoning with new jeans, shirts, jackets, blouses, skirts, and on and on. Racks held a huge variety of new warm coats for soon to be cooler climes.

There was even a shoe store with a plethora of what each kid wanted to be stylish and well shod provided by Payless Shoe Stores of Tacoma. It is all part of the annual Kiwanis “Gear Up for School” program.

As has been the case each of the 13 years of the program, youngsters and families lined up as early as 6 a.m. on the KPMS sidewalks. Many bring folding lawn chairs to ease the wait. All are convivial. It’s almost like a school reunion with parents chatting and kids running around having fun or playing silly games.

Groups of about 10 kids with parents are signed in and escorted through the “store” from station to station. First stop is to pick up a bag of school supplies, then jeans, shirts, backpack, warm coats and finally shoes. On exiting, if eligible each youngster receives a bicycle, which the Kiwanians collect throughout the year and turn over to the Washington Corrections Center for Women where the inmates renovate them, turning them into “new” bikes.

Members of the Key Peninsula Fire Department then professionally affix and size each child’s free bicycle helmet before they are allowed to board the newly acquired bikes.

For more information on this annual event, please contact Carol Arnold, sarnold@nullamerican.edu or call 253-857-8505.

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