WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — For years "Jack the Bike Man" has been a pillar in the community, fixing up old bikes and donating them to kids who can't afford one.
However, he is now faced with two challenges: the pandemic and high rent.
Workers were busy Tuesday inside Jack Hairston’s warehouse. They were making sure used bikes look new again for a child who can't afford one.
The holidays are here, and it's a time to be happy. But Hairston said the rent for his warehouse is about $175,000 a year and hard to afford.
"I would rather use that money to help the children, so it became my mission to find a building that we can own, and I have found one. It's a wonderful two-story building it was built in 1925," said Hairston.
The building is just a block away from his current warehouse in West Palm Beach.
He said it will take time and money to renovate the building that the organization wants to call their own.
"Because of the pandemic we are going through this year, the donation rate has been a little lower," Hairston said.
Because he's not able to have his yearly fundraisers, the lack of donations is also affecting how many kids will get a bike this year.
"Not only did we lose a lot of income from the events, the individual contributions people who normally send us $25 or $50 a year or a $100 and some $1,000, that has dwindled dramatically," Hairston said.
He said every year he is able to give away at least 2,000 bicycles to kids, but this holiday season, he is only able to give away 1,200.
"The sad part is this pandemic has caused that, and it's also going to cause a problem for our annual Christmas party," Hairston said.
He said the bikes will be handed out through various organizations instead of at their annual holiday bike giveaway. He's hoping to see brighter times next year.