Chester Jackson, the body shop owner who has given away thousands of bikes despite some being stolen over the years, is back at it.
But this time he’s operating from a different location.
Jackson recently moved his East Coast Body Shop from Farr Road to 142 Brennan Road. The 6th Annual Wishing Well Foundation Bicycle Giveaway, sponsored by Today’s Youth in a Challenging Tomorrow Inc., will be held at the new location on Dec. 16.
On Friday, the organization will hold a fish fry fundraiser from 12 to 6 p.m. at the Brennan Road site. Plates of Tilapia or Whiting, with fries or onion rings, will be on sale for $5 donations.
“These monthly fundraisers help the organization to raise funds to purchase new bikes and to purchase parts needed to fix the hundreds of used bikes that are donated to the organization,” according to a news release issued by TYCT. “Mr. Jackson has also announced that he would love to collect 700 new bikes this year. Over the last five years we have collected thousands of bikes for children in our community. We want this year to be no different.”
In 2015, producers of NBC’s “Today” show came to Columbus to spotlight Jackson and his bike giveaway program. Jeff Rossen, an investigative reporter for the show’s Rossen Reports segment, said producers decided to feature Jackson’s story after learning that people had been stealing some of the bikes from his shop during the summer.
Jackson began collecting, restoring and donating bikes six years ago. The first year he ran the drive, 140 bikes were stolen from his body shop. The next year, thieves struck again, stealing 50 bikes from behind a locked wooden fence.
Though his security camera captured photos of the young thieves, Jackson said at the time that he wouldn’t press charges if they came forward.
Nicole Buffong, a public relations consultant representing Jackson, said the break-ins had stopped even before Jackson moved to the new location. She said Jackson relocated because the person who owned the Farr Road property sold it.
“The prayers and love that the community has given us over the years, grants us the grace to continue this legacy,” Jackson said. “The new location of East Coast Body Shop provides the foundation with a new home as well. We are ready to receive new bicycles, and the used ones as well, and we now have somewhere to store them more securely until December.
“We look forward to being able to provide over 1,500 bicycles to kids in our community again this year,” he continued. “We can’t do it alone, we need the community to help us surpass our goal from last year and put smiles on more faces.”
For more information about the Wishing Well Foundation Bicycle Giveaway, call Jackson at 706-685-0823.