Wal-Mart to launch bike drive for storm-ravaged Coast

Wal-Mart is teaming up with the Salvation Army for a history-making Christmas project that promises to provide 100,000 bicycles for children in the hurricane-ravaged communities along the Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana coastlines.

“Merry Christmas, Gulf Coast: Bicycles or Bust,” which would be the largest bicycle drive in history, would take place Dec. 3-9, when 10 Wal-Mart managers from the three states will log 300 miles on bicycles, traveling from Biloxi to Alabama and Louisiana.

The team will be encouraging people across the country to make contributions to the Salvation Army to help reach the goal of 100,000 bikes for the Salvation Army to present in time for Christmas.

The bicycle-riding managers, known as Team Wal-Mart, will peddle a dawn-to-dusk route that will travel along U.S 90 from Alabama to Louisiana before returning to Biloxi.

“This is an outstanding and much-appreciated project,” said Biloxi Mayor A.J. Holloway, who has agreed to help organize the affair. “Wal-Mart is using its considerable resources to assemble a team of businesses and the media to make Christmas brighter for thousands of families and to call attention to the continuing recovery efforts here in Biloxi and along the entire Gulf Coast. I’m confident that the nation will respond.”

Among the corporate sponsors are Clear Channel Communications, which will provide daily status reports on radio and TV stations across the country; Northrop Grumman; Dupont; Cingular Wireless; Lamar Advertising; BioDefend Pet & Wildlife Repellents; Mandal Pontiac-Buick-GMC Truck; and Paw Paw’s Camper City.

A toll-free contribution line has been set up at 1-800-SAL-ARMY to accept donations, and as the Dec. 3 kickoff nears, each of the sponsors will link their websites to the Salvation Army’s web site, where visitors can contribute to the goal of 100,000 bikes.