Bikes for the World

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Featured Volunteer: Otterbein UM Church Collects Another 200 Bikes

2,230 bicycles and 78 sewing machines

That's more bikes than we've shipped to over half of our overseas partners! That's almost five containers of bikes donated. For the projects we support more frequently like Village Bicycle Project or Goodwill Panama, that's an entire year's worth of bicycles we would donate to them. From ONE church...Otterbein United Methodist Church. Otterbein sets the bar high...then they compact it for shipping!

Otterbein United Methodist is located in Hagerstown Maryland and they have been partnered with Bikes for the World since we started in 2005. The last weekend in April for the past decade they have had an annual bike drive with BfW. But do the math: 2,000 divided by 10 is still 200. That means every collection Otterbein has been accepting, processing, and loading about 200 bikes EVERY single year, religiously. Pun intended.

Some years see more bikes than others. Last year they didn't quite break 200. One year they got 400 bikes.  In 2013 with a last minute addition of a few bikes in Greencastle PA they will definitely meet their 200 goal and then some.

How, you ask? It's not because they are way out in Hagerstown away from any other bike collections, although it may help a little. Otterbein has been committed to this effort since the start and Cindy Brown, Director of Programs has been promoting it heavily ever since.

She cites the regularity of the collection, the same weekend every year, as part of the reason for their success. She's actually scheduled Otterbein collections through 2016! And they work with other groups like police departments and recycling centers to divert bikes to their annual collection rather than landfills.

Courtesy Cindy Brown
They also gets the word out through media outlets, flyers, emails...And as you can see occasionally they reinvent the wheel. This big bike is parked at various locations around town leading up to the big event. You can't miss it! Cindy has been exploring new options with social media. This group doesn't sit still! They are changing with the times and always looking for something new. This year they gave out notepads with the BfW logo on the back to all donors. And she always follows up with a thank you message.

What we saw at this collection was a community coming together to serve one common good. At Bikes for the World we are proud to be this bridge that allows all walks of life to come together in one community or church parking lot, as the case may be, to offer a valuable service to its community (recycling) that in turns offers another (affordable transportation) to another oceans away. And the bi-product at both ends appears to be lives changed.  That's a great days work!

From Cindy Brown:
 There are several reasons we continue to give to this effort. First - the stability of Bikes for the World reaches across local and global partnerships to address real human needs. Stories shared by recipients of bicycles are often astounding. Second - it is "recycling" at it's best! Our efforts provide a place other than an attic or the local landfill for these bikes to gather dust and rust; processing the bikes means the family, and medical care workers will be more accessible. Bicycling in America is predominantly recreational. For those whom we serve, the gift of a bike means survival and dignity.
Not only does our partnership with Bikes for the World extend to global projects, it creates a unique local opportunity for service and outreach. For Otterbein, it is one of many "parking lot" ministries offered throughout the year. Outreach on our lot brings together church neighborhood and members. This year's 37 bike collection volunteers included grandparents and grandchildren working side by side, neighbors with known history of conviction and incarceration, Eagle scouts, members of the church and their friends. This is a typcial cross-section whether we are worshiping together, conducting a program on the parking lot, or collaborating with other community agencies and resources. Our "official" mission statement is:

To be the body of Christ on this corner, serving and influencing the neighborhood and the larger community with the grace and power of God.

We value and enjoy the partnership with Bikes for the World which enables us to live out our mission and purpose.


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