The local Knights of Pythias are in elf mode.

The local Knights of Pythias are in elf mode.

With the final shipment of bicycles arriving this week, members from the R.A. Driesbach Lodge of the Knights of Pythias are busy assembling and fine-tuning more than 130 bicycles.

If it’s getting to be Christmas time, it is high time for the annual Bikes for Boys and Girls of Gulf County giveaway.

The Knights, who have operated the program the past five years, will host giveaways to this year’s children on Dec. 16.

They will be in Port St. Joe 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. ET at City Commons Park adjacent to City Hall.

Up next will be Wewahitchka and Lake Alice Park and a giveaway that will transpire from 1-2:30 p.m. CT.

“We encourage all the parents to bring their children out so they can try their new bikes and have some photos taken,” said Clarence Monette with the Knights of Pythias.

“We also encourage residents to come out as well and see the joy.”

And, during those giveaways, it is hard to suppress the smiles as children receive new wheels of the holiday.

“We always have a lot of fun,” Monette said. “We really enjoy it.”

Reflected in the hard work and long hours being put in this week to prep the bikes for new owners.

There are seats, handlebars, tires and brakes to install and ensure are in working order.

The Knights accept used bikes throughout the year and also work with Bay County’s Salvage Santa, Mike Jones, to bring used bikes up to like-new condition and secure new bikes.

Over 85 percent of the bikes to be wheeled out next Saturday are new, the Knights using donations collected year-round and raised during a summer fish fry and fall raffle.

“We just really thank all the citizens and businesses that have helped us out throughout the year and supported this program,” Monette said.

The “elf” days, the giveaways, bring out pretty much the entire Lodge membership, Monette said; it is a special day all around.

For the kids, who have been identified by the local schools, for the parents, who get a leg-up on Christmas shopping and a can’t-fail present, and the Knights who find a bit of additional bonding.

“That’s one of our big days every year, most of the members are out helping and we have a great time socializing,” Monette said. “There is a lot of camaraderie.

“We enjoy getting together and helping out with kids. That is what is all about.”