As the El Dosogi children came down the steps of their apartment complex Wednesday night, they could see four new bicycles with helmets lined up for them.

Mohammed, 7, jumped up and down at the sight.

"Mommy, can we play with them today?" he asked his mother, Fatima Babiker.

Then each child took the bikes for a ride up and down the parking lot. They raced one another over and over again.

The bikes were four of the 200 that employees at the local branch of Waste Connections, a disposal services company, donated to local kids through nonprofit organizations. This is the fourth year the branch of about 200 employees has raised money to buy bikes, then assembled and distributed them.

"There are tons and tons of families and families with children that probably wouldn’t get anything this holiday season," said John Harris, district manager at Waste Connections. He remembers getting his own bike when he was 5. It was green with white tires. He rode it for six or seven years, he said: "I loved it. I rode it until I wore it out. It represented a little bit of freedom, and to be creative and adventurous."

"I can’t imagine if a kid didn’t have that," he said.

Employees donated their own money, and they asked friends and customers to donate, too. They held group fundraisers: selling cakes from Nothing Bundt Cakes, putting on raffles and tailgating at University of Texas football games with a barbecue trailer made from a Waste Connections dumpster. People donated money for a plate of barbecue.

"We ask them to donate, and some will throw down $20," Harris said. Others would buy a bike, which averaged about $80 each.

The Waste Connections team raised about $16,000. They identified local nonprofit organizations, including Blue Santa programs in towns where Waste Connections has customers, an IDEA charter school, church food pantries and the Statesman Season for Caring program.

Babiker and her children are part of the Season for Caring program, which highlights the needs of 12 local families nominated by nonprofit organizations and then raises money to help those families, as well as hundreds of others like them.

Babiker, 33, and her children came to the U.S. two years ago from Egypt. Babiker fled Sudan as a teenager.

Waste Connections also donated bikes to two other Season for Caring families: the three sons of Alicia Gonzales, a single mom who has gone back to school to become a nurse while also taking care of her mother, and the triplet daughters of Amina Makamba, who came here almost three years ago from Congo and gave birth to triplets her first day in the U.S.

Last Saturday, 40 employees and family members gathered at Waste Connections’ office to assemble the bikes, which they purchased at a discount from Academy Sports + Outdoors. Harris barbecued for the group out of the dumpster-turned-pit.

"We’re not counting," said Sheila Bowman, whose husband works as a scale operator at Waste Connections’ recycling center in Bastrop. "We’re just building."

"This is for the kids," Ron Bowman said.

"It shows the dedication of Waste Connections to the community we serve," said site manager Chris Kjar. He brought both of his parents and his wife, who also works for the company, and set up an assembly line of bikes.

Senisa Meadows, an operations supervisor, and her 15-year-old daughter, Kennedy, were knocking out bikes.

"She says she’s a professional" bike builder, Meadows said of her daughter. For the last three years, they both have volunteered for the bike-build day.

"You help the kids that are less fortunate," Kennedy said.

Meadows likes that the bikes go to the communities her company serves. "It’s something for us to give back," she said. "The smile on their faces ... they are just very grateful."

As 9-year-old Mosbah raced his new bike up and down his family’s parking lot Wednesday, he cheerfully shouted, "This is the best day ever!"

Again and again, Babiker thanked Jason Wasserman, the marketing coordinator at Waste Connections, who delivered the bikes. She had her children each thank him, too.

"It’s my pleasure," Wasserman said. "I’m so happy the kids like them."

Next year, Wasserman says, Waste Connections is aiming to give even more bikes, 225 to 245.

"It feels so good, just watching (the kids’) eyes light up," he said.

Babiker still has many items on her wish list. She works for a local house-cleaning service, but she dreams of one day becoming a licensed cosmetologist. She wants to take classes to improve her English and thus her job prospects.

A reliable SUV would help her secure better employment. Her car became unreliable after a theft attempt. She has to get rides to work from a friend, because she says she isn’t allowed to bring her cleaning supplies on the city bus.

Babiker also needs many household items, including new living room furniture, blankets, sheets, dressers and soccer balls.

To find out more about Babiker and her family, contact Caritas of Austin at 512-646-1277 or