Bikes for the World

Friday, June 28, 2013

High Rollers

Eagle scout Senthil Kannan and Yvette Hess of BfW
Don't you do anything for kids locally?

We get this question all the time. We absolutely do! In addition to providing bikes for the Rockville based TERRIFIC program, Bikes for the World's mission is to offer rewarding community service projects to youths, teens, and adults.

Whether they are collecting bikes in their community or assisting to load a container for overseas our volunteers are walking away with an invaluable experience. In fact it coincides with the high standards of Eagle rank, thus making Bikes for the World a perfect fit for an Eagle project and why we've partnered with over 70 scouts over the years.

So even though it's about the bike, it's truly about so much more. Board member Ted Haynie, a retired school principal, put it like this: 
We engaged in many opportunities for our students to develop awareness traits like respect, responsibility, self-discipline, empathy, etc., all the standard stuff but not by just talking to them about it; rather by giving them multiple chances to experience these traits in practice.  This led us to Bikes for the World.  The idea of expanding students' global awareness of life in developing countries where children are unable to attend school or get to the doctor because of the lack of personal transportation was an important concept.  The whole notion of our throw-away society was also something we wanted to convey as well as just simple activism and becoming involved in service to others.”
Rockville TERRIFIC bike recipient
 But don't you provide bikes to the 'World'?

We do. But it's not that simple. First, Bikes for the World has donated over 80,000 bikes to date. That's a lot of bikes! We get that a lot too. We aren't impacting that many people by dealing with beneficiaries on an individual basis. What we do at Bikes for the World is select other non profits who receive bikes from us in bulk that they will then in turn donate individually.

Second, keep in mind these are used bikes. They don't always arrive to us in trail-ready condition. A bike mechanic has to look them over and often repair or replace parts in order to make them safe to ride. Providing helmets, locks, reflectors, and lights is also a good idea. This is time consuming and costly, which is why we leave it to organizations who can focus on the safety aspect AND see to it that the bikes are delivered to people who need them most.

Courtesy Phoenix Bikes
Where do you donate bikes locally?

BfW has donated bikes to several local community groups over the years. Because of the abundance of unwanted and discarded bikes in the DC area, most local bike organizations can easily find bikes to support their programs.

Meet Phoenix Bikes in Arlington. This group collects bikes locally, runs a successful earn-a-bike program, and sells used bikes to support the shop.

Springfield bikes for Kristi's Christmas
You may recall earlier this year we partnered with the West Springfield Rotary, who partnered with Irving Middle School, and The Bike Lane, and Kristi's Christmas, who worked with the Fairfax area school district to collect, fix, and distribute bikes to kids in need.  Phew, that was a lot. But that's what it took just to collect, transport, and fix up 13 bikes to use locally.

It's practically a full time job. Which is why Bikes for the World focuses on its mission to collect and distribute (as-is) bikes, leaving the rest to organizations who are focused on the the final steps. So no, unfortunately, we can't donate a bike or two here or there, simply because do have the staff or time to devote to doing so, but what we can do is recommend another group who might be able to help.

Next time we will bring you the story of a local man who is doing just that, collecting bikes, fixing them up, and finding them new homes. Charles Jones started up a local organization called Alexandria's Bikes for Tykes, Teens, and Adults in need. He teamed up with Bikes for the World several years ago, and now some of our donated bikes end up right back here locally, thanks to the dedication and hard work of Jones, affectionately known as the Bike Doctor.

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