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The New York Times Upfront
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For Kids in Need, the Gift of Wheels

Clayton Lillard
 
Seven years ago, Clayton Lillard, 17, of San Antonio, Texas, started Clayton's Backyard Crew, a group that refurbishes and assembles old and new bikes to give as Christmas gifts to children with a parent in prison. This junior at Communications Arts High School has given out more than 800 bikes through the Prison Fellowship Angel Tree charity. Upfront spoke to Lillard about his volunteer work.

Why focus on children with a parent in prison?
We [my mom and I] had had experience with loved ones in prison, so we knew how it's a lot more difficult around the holiday...We don't want these kids to feel abandoned or anything, so when we're able to give them a Christmas gift, especially a bike, we try to show them the joy and the good in life.

And how did you decide on bikes?
I loved bikes when I was little. And all kids want bikes, pretty much.

What kind of impact has the project made on you?
It's become a huge part of my life. We don't even question if we're going to do it again the next year or not. Christmas season for us is bike season.

What is your goal with the project?
We've been trying to start a franchise so we can get bikes out to more families in other cities, not just in San Antonio.

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