By Ed Brock
An eight-year-old youngster named Mercedes has very specific ideas about the kind of bicycle she wants.
"Pink, with a basket on the front and a purple seat and white pedals," Mercedes said.
But any size will do.
The Riverdale Police Department and Clayton County Department of Family and Children Services are giving Mercedes and other children in the county's 120 foster homes about 40 bicycles that might otherwise have been destroyed. They are bikes that were either brought into the Riverdale police as lost or seized by the police for some other reason, Riverdale police Officer Debra Johnson said.
After determining that the bikes were not stolen and going through the courts to get permission to destroy them or donate them, they chose the latter, Johnson said.
While Mercedes' expectations may not all be met, her foster mother Sharon Booker will have plenty to chose from.
"You name it, it was in there," Johnson said. "It's like a department store."
Booker, who lives in Stockbridge, said that Mercedes has been living with her for three years after being found suffering from severe malnutrition. She has another foster child, a 4-year-old girl, who came to live with her four months ago.
"They both want bikes," Booker said.
Her own 6-year-old son wants a bike too, Booker said, and she's been waiting anxiously for their arrival.
"I was calling DFCS every other day," Booker said.
On Monday, county employees delivered the bikes to the DFCS offices on Battlecreek Road, said Chuck Fischer, DFCS acting deputy director.
"We have put the word out to our foster parents to please come forward if they have children who could benefit from the bikes," Fischer said.
There are more than 500 foster children in Clayton County DFCS care, Fischer said. Most of the bicycles are in good shape and he's been told to expect another load of bikes in six months.
"It's an ongoing process," Fischer said.
Meanwhile, DFCS is also beginning its back-to-school drive for donations of school materials for the foster children. Anyone wishing to make a donation to that drive can call Fischer at (770) 603-4600.