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They say one man's trash is another man's treasure, but at the Lake County landfill, one man's trash may become a precious holiday gift for a family in need.

Through the Bicycle Re-Cycle program, Lake County has given out more than 1,000 discarded bicycles since 2009. The program began when Solid Waste Division employees at the landfill noticed perfectly good bikes being thrown away simply because children had outgrown them.

"It seemed wasteful to destroy these bicycles when so many kids would love to have a bike but their parents couldn't afford one," said Patricia Cotoia, an office associate with the Solid Waste Division, who oversees the program.

"Some bicycles needed a little TLC but are usable, and some are practically new."

However, with that success the supply of bicycles quickly dwindled. That's where the Lake County Sheriff's Office and Eustis Police Department stepped in, offering up unclaimed bikes from their lost and found. On December 11, the Eustis Police Department donated 26 discarded bicycles to the program.

"I never throw any bikes away," said retired Detective Larry Elliot. "There is always someone who can do something with them."

To obtain a free bike through the Bicycle Re-Cycle program, visit the Lake County landfill located at 13130 County Landfill Road, Tavares from 7:30am to 5pm Monday through Saturday or call 352-343-3776.

There is a limit of one bicycle per household per month and recipients must be residents of Lake County. Supplies are limited and bicycles may also be donated to the landfill during the same hours of operation.

Perfectly good discarded bikes have a chance to bring a smile to another child during the holidays
Eric Anderson, landfill supervisor (left), Eustis Police Evidence Technician Larry Elliot and Jacob Stanley, Environmental Waster Technician, load up unclaimed bikes for the county's Bicycle Recycle Program. (Photo by Elisha Pappacoda)
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