SALEM, Va. (WDBJ) - You can cover a lot of distance with one bike, but one hometown church is looking at a 200-mile journey.
Pastor Thomas McCracken and his CommUNITY Church congregation are loading up 320 bikes -- wheels that are heading to New Bern, North Carolina for families who lost everything in Hurricane Florence. The program is called Wheels for Hope.
McCracken, Senior Pastor at CommUNITY Church, said, "A bike is freedom, you know, a bike is freedom, it's liberty, it gives them a chance to get out and explore, to play, to have fun outside."
Through community donations, this church was able to raise $25,000 to pay for the bikes and make this trip to New Bern.
"It's about seeing the kids, you know, Christmas is about kids, and seeing those faces whenever they get those bicycles and just to see their smiles," Martie Umberger, a CommUNITY Church Member, said.
Church members are driving more than 270 miles after church Sunday to deliver those smiles, and McCracken knows what it's like to not a have a Christmas.
"My wife and I were in Guam back in the 90s, and we had a Typhoon come and just decimate the island. We couldn't go anywhere and we had children in our home and so when Christmas came it wasn't really much about presents, it was about getting walls and getting a place to live that was safe," McCracken said.
Like the name of their church -- this is a commUNITY effort. Members will be riding on two trucks that were donated.
Mike Trenor, the man who donated the two trucks, said, "I mean that's a blessing for anybody just to get to do that."
A blessing for these church members and a Christmas miracle for the kids who will receive the bikes.