15:11 PM

UHDPD Holiday Roundup of Giving Back

The University of Houston-Downtown Police Department (UHDPD) takes pride in giving back to the community. And this holiday season they continued the tradition of bringing cheer to Greater Houston children.

Changing Lives One Bike at a Time

On a Saturday morning in early December, UHD Director of Emergency Management Carol Manousos, UHDPD Sgt. Jaime Cortez; Lt. Frederick Varela; and Security Officer Juan Mondragon built bikes for children of Houston for the charity, CYCLE: Changing Young Children's Lives through Education, at NRG Stadium.

This children's charity rewards students with new bicycles for achieving better academic performance in the classroom. CYCLE's mission is dedicated to improving literacy in Grades K - 3 in Title One schools in throughout Houston. They give young students the opportunity to earn a bicycle for achieving their set goals, and in return, they learn that hard work equals reward. They believe that learning this lesson can put schoolchildren on the path to a brighter future. With their bicycle programs, they encourage children to be active physically and mentally, empowering them to improve their literacy and possibly break the cycle of poverty. According to CYCLE, only 37 percent of HISD third-graders hit Texas reading standards in 2013, but CYCLE is working hard to change these figures one bike at a time .

The UHD Gator team of four built 30 bicycles in approximately two hours.

"We had such a wonderful time interacting with all the other teams and sharing stories of our bike building, or in my case, lack of bike building skills," said Varela "Sgt. Cortez built a baker's dozen all by himself. This was an experience that we will cherish. We are already planning on doing it again next year. We hope we can increase the number of volunteers at UHD so we can build many more bikes!"

Toys for Ketelsen Elementary

With just four days before Christmas, a UHDPD team—Chief Michael Benford; Assistant Chief David Deleon; Lt. Anthony Hodge; Sgt. Trinity Delafance; Officer Lisa Barajas; Sgt. Imelda Rodriguez; Officer Raymond Jenkins; Officer Vincent Wilkins; Officer Tabatha Rivera, Security Officers: Deionne Jackson, Brenette Whitaker, Paul Siglock ; Dispatcher Joseph Correra; and Administrative Assistant Tracy Lee— collected more than 50 toys to bring some extra holiday joy to about 30 Ketelsen Elementary School students in the Houston Independent School District.