SAN LEANDRO (KPIX 5) He is a full-time police officer who’s no stranger to burglars and shoplifters. But this time of year, he’s known as the Bike Cop, or Santa Louie.
“Just the excitement and expression on their faces, it means so much to see them so excited,” Officer Louie Brandt said, loading another bike into a car outside the Davis Street Family Resource Center in San Leandro.READ MORE: San Jose Arts Committee Votes to Remove Controversial Statue of Thomas Fallon
The 18-year veteran of the San Leandro Police Department heads up Bikes for Tykes. He’s organized the annual bicycle giveaway for the last six years with the San Leandro Police Officers Association and Davis Street Family Resource Center.
About 800 low income families from the San Leandro area receive a turkey dinner food box and toys from the center, but thanks to Brandt, nearly 500 children aged 3 to 12 years old get chosen by lottery to receive a brand new bicycle.
Julia Alvarez says she and her husband can only afford the necessities so Brandt is helping fulfill their daughter’s Christmas wish.READ MORE: Multiple Earthquakes Rattle Sierra Nevada Near Truckee Thursday Night
Davis Street Center CEO Rose Johnson says the San Leandro native raises money for Bikes for Tykes all year long.
“He takes his vacation time, he does this after work, he does it on the weekends,” Johnson explained.
This year, he generated $24,000 from his annual fundraising dinner, grants, and business and private donations. Then he ordered the bicycles at a discounted rate from Walmart. The store assembled each one.
Brandt has given away almost 3,000 bicycles in the last six years.MORE NEWS: Pandemic Weight Problems, Eating Disorders Affect Children
So for providing free bicycles and big smiles to low income children for the holidays, this week’s Jefferson Award in the Bay Area goes to Officer Louie Brandt.