Miller collects bikes, clothes for needy children

By Jason A. Smith
Times Correspondent

Herman Miller is keeping up a holiday tradition of generosity this year. He’s reaching out to give a helping hand to kids during the holiday season.

Volunteers sort clothing donations that will be delivered to needy children in Kentucky. Special photo

“We’ve just been interested in kids who didn’t have a whole lot of things for Christmas,” said Miller, owner of the W.D. Miller Store on Ga. Highway 155 in McDonough.

According to Miller he recently collected 72 bicycles that are “brand new or in excellent condition” to give to needy children. He also collected more than 140 coats, insulated underwear, toboggans, coats, socks and other items for the endeavor.

Miller began the bike-donation project seven years ago. Each year, he selects a different area where kids are in need. This year, he said, the donations went all the way to Partridge, Ky.

“That’s in the coal mining area of Kentucky where a lot of coal mines have been shut down,” he added.

The donations were taken to Kentucky on Dec. 5. Miller said most of the donations went to a small school in Partridge, and the remainder went to an area in the mountains near there.

“We had two pickup trucks and two trailers that we took them up there on,” he says.

The concept for the bike-donation project, Miller says, was born eight years ago, when a man brought a bicycle into Miller’s Store and asked him to find someone who needed it. Miller recalls that he then mentioned that interaction to a group of more than 50 regulars at Miller’s Store known as The Breakfast Club.

“We have a bunch of men in the community who come in every morning and just have a big time together,” says Miller. “They just come in, drink coffee, eat a biscuit and have a good time eating and fellowshipping. The idea [for the donations] grew out of the group.”

Miller also collaborates with local churches to obtain donations for the project annually.

“This is our seventh year,” he says. “Each year, it has gotten bigger. We go to a different area every year. Most of the time we have someone who knows about depressed areas and tells us about them. They go to the schools and churches, and find children and families that really have a need. Those are the ones who get the bicycles and coats.”

Miller says many of the children who have received the donations over the years are in difficult situations and have “real needs.” He says the kids are always grateful for his efforts.

“They are very, very appreciative,” says Miller. “Lots of these kids are being raised by their grandparents because their father’s in jail or their mother’s on drugs. It’s really a blessing to see that these kids have something.”

Miller adds that he plans to continue collecting bikes and other items to donate during the holidays next year.

“I’m 78 years old, and just as long as we can do it, we want to do it,” he says.