Oviedo restaurant gifts 12 needy kids with new bikes
Twelve shiny new bikes patiently awaited their new unsuspecting owners as they stood arranged in a neat line outside Anthony's Pizza restaurant located in Oviedo on Monday.
Their soon-to-be owners – all kids from local schools — were eating lunch and, unbeknownst to most of them, would be leaving the restaurant with more than just full bellies.
They would also leave with brand new bikes.
The bikes were bought with the personal paychecks of the family-owned restaurant's co-owners, Christopher Marku and Mike Krasniqi.
"We try to give back a little bit, you know, as much as we can. We aren't really interested in publicity; we just did it for the kids, " Marku said.
Three weeks ago, Krasniqi and Marku decided to gift needy families with Christmas presents and approached Arnie Amoros, vice president of Central Florida's Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 176, for help.
The Fraternal Order of Police is a national organization comprised of both active and retired law enforcement officers who volunteer their time and money to help continue serving local communities via fundraisers and charity events.
On Monday, Marku and Krasniqi's request resulted in the bright smiles of six boys and six girls, ranging from 5 to 13 years of age.
"I haven't had a bike in a really long time and I really wanted one, because I felt left out. Everybody had a bike and I would just be there sitting on the grass, so I'm really excited to use it," Gineta Flores, a 12-year-old girl from Carver Middle School, said.
Flores was particularly happy with her bike because of its colors, purple and blue, which she said fit well with her tomboy personality.
Flores and the other kids were hand-picked by their schools to receive the gifts due to their families' lower income levels. The kids came from schools such as Evans Elementary School, Carver Middle school, Kingsway Christian Academy and Central Florida Christian Academy.
Armando Nunez, an 8-year-old from Kingsway Christian Academy, felt really nervous during the bike distribution because there were "too many people," but said he can't wait to ride his new bike to school, if his mother allows it.
Katiria Nunez, mother of Armando, was ecstatic when she received the phone call from the FOP informing her that her son would be receiving a free new bike for the holidays.
She said her son really needed a new bike because he had long since outgrown his last one, and she sincerely appreciates the efforts from the co-owners of Anthony's Pizza and the FOP to go out of their way and help the community.
"People should do this more often, especially police," Katiria said.
Gabby Baquero is the Entertainment Editor for the Central Florida Future. Email her at Mariab@centralfloridafuture.com.