Bikes for the World

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

6,000 Bikes. And Counting...

Paul Crawford
It seems like every year we are comparing someone with Otterbein United Methodist Church and this year is no different. It's because after a dozen bike collections with Bikes for the World,  this crew is a well oiled machine worthy of mention and comparison.

So last week we noted the amazing efforts of the Frederick based Rotary Club of Carroll Creek. After a year of collecting bikes for their 2017 annual bike drive, the Frederick County Rotarians turned in an impressive 902 bikes! This ramped up their overall collection total to 3,127 bikes, making them the BfW record holder since 2005.

Mike Johnston accepting the 1k Award
They knocked off Washington County's Otterbein United Methodist Church who held that title since....FOREVER. In fact, back in 2009 Otterbein UM broke records (which still hold today) by collecting 400 bikes in one day. This is the BfW record for a one day, one location bike donation drop off point by any of our partners.

It was that '09 effort that put Otterbein UM into a club they essentially created, our 1k Club. This distinction is for any BfW partner who has collected over 1,000 bikes donated on our behalf.  Today, there are 10 members. Two well on their way to earning a place in our 5k Club...Otterbein United Methodist Church and the Rotary Club of Carroll Creek.

Otterbein 2017 Crew
On April 29th, Otterbein UM reclaimed their title by collecting 268 bikes during their 2017 bike drive, taking their overall total to 3,136 bikes. Nine more than the neighboring Rotarians. Every year we hear the same thing from donors, volunteers, and even the organizers of this collection...there can't be that many bikes every year, but then there are. We joked about getting them wet like Gremlins, they just keep multiplying. (and yes the kids of today got that joke)

In fact, this year's total was only two bikes less than last year's total. In the thirteen years that Otterbein UM has been collecting bikes the last weekend of April, only three years fell below 200 bikes. And barely: 187, 188, and 189.

Otterbein UM is also the single biggest source of our donated sewing machines, many of which end up in Costa Rica to help tailors start sewing businesses that support their families. 

Ryliah Hill learns how to take off pedals for the first time
But it's not just about bike totals. Overseas, each bike on average affects four lives and at over 3,000 bikes donated, that's a lot of positive change. But the work Otterbein UM does just in their own community is worth so much more right here at home. Otterbein UM is known for their 'parking lot ministry'. What is that saying? Open Hearts. Open Minds. Open Doors. Yeah, that.

Otterbein UM works in the community, for the community. While the bikes they collect for BfW do not stay within the Hagerstown community, the commitment to service and outreach does. Over the years, we see many familiar faces wielding a wrench and slinging off pedals. But every year we also see new faces being mentored and trained by those dedicated volunteers who helped collect the very first bikes. This is important to us and our effort, but we also know that volunteering is a 'bug' that stays with you throughout your life.

According to Cindy Brown, one of the main collection managers of this successful effort, they had four generations out there working side by side. Every year she is impressed with the turn out both from donors and volunteers. Neighborhood kids even came over to lend a hand this year.

"When you first begin a partnership with Bikes for the World, it is rewarding to consider the local and global benefits. By now - after 13 collections - it is astounding to realize over 3,000 bikes have been pulled out of storage, kept out of the landfill, and put to good use," Cindy Brown.

And because this is just a friendly competition where everyone benefits, we'll go ahead and point out by Monday April 25th the Rotarians already had another dozen bikes toward their 2018 goal...so technically they are still leading the pack :)

Congratulations to both groups, and thank you, thank you, thank you!!

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