‘Salvage Santa’ prepares hundreds of bikes to give away for Christmas

Christmas in the Panhandle

BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — Santa’s helpers were hard at work building bikes for kids Saturday morning.

For the fifth year in a row Mike Jones, otherwise known as, “Salvage Santa” is making Christmas possible for kids in Panama City with his bike build day.

“We are going to probably have about 350 bikes this year and I would have never dreamed that with the pandemic and what we have got going on in the economy right now,” Jones said. “Bay County never lets me down Bay County is always strong.”

Sea Cadets from North Bay Haven, local Boy Scouts, and Bay High AFJROTC were there to help assemble a hundred bicycles today in just three hours.

“There are people around here that you could never tell if they are struggling and this is just an opportunity to give what I have to other people,” a local boy scout, Jackson Summers, said.

For the last 43 years, Jones has been nicknamed “Salvage Santa” and he hopes by getting the kids involved that there will be another Salvage Santa ready when he retires.

“That’s what God put us here for,” Jones said. “To give back to pick those up that are having a hard time coming along the way and drag them if you have to, make the go forward, and that’s what we are all about helping people and helping our community.”

Owner of Gulf Marine Rich Johnson has been involved in the bike build-off for several years and says his favorite part is watching others come together as a team to help the community.

“We love it. it’s just so exciting to see the kids get involved and be a part of the Christmas giving spirit,” Johnson said. “It’s just so important these days not just the receiving but the giving. And all these kids get together and it’s just amazing this spirit and life they have in them and what they wanna do and help the community.”

75 bikes went to the Glenwood Center on Saturday.

And throughout the week, several churches and community groups have come by to pick up bikes.

Jones said they are exceeding their goals this year by being able to distribute 350 bikes to kids in Panama City.

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