It's no coincidence that the collection weekend began at Otterbein United Methodist Church. This faith-full BfW partner has been with us since the beginning and will likely see their 3,000th bike donated next season. This year brought in a near record 270 bikes, their biggest collection since 2009 when they packed up 400 in one day! Even though we had our biggest truck there, they still overflowed it causing us to make two trips just to get all the bikes into the warehouse.
Each school set out with the goal of collecting 50 bikes, a minimum we ask our managers to strive for when undertaking a collection. This motivates the team, but also rattles a little nerves. It's a bit like throwing a party and worrying if anyone will show up.
Teacher/organizer Carol Knoblach was thrilled with the outcome. She knew they had a very generous community and filling our truck with bikes was proof. Everyone stopped by to peek in our Penske just to see how many lives would be improved through their effort.
Kids brought their old bikes to donate after a presentation during lunch where Outreach Coordinator Yvette Hess shared stories from beneficiaries, many kids who needed bikes to get to school. "I wanted to give my old bike to another kid who really needs it and can't afford to buy a new one," said one very young donor.
Another family pulled out a couple small bikes and the owners handed them over to the collection. Yvette put them to work and had them prep the bikes to be donated overseas. They were super excited to learn a little about pedal wrenches and how their bikes were going to help kids in El Salvador. "Cool!"
"Whenever I go into the classroom I'm often impressed by the thoughtful questions the students ask me," said Yvette. "They are genuinely interested in the program and excited to learn how they can help improve lives around the world."
"Working at the Elementary School level is one of the most rewarding parts of my job," continued Yvette. "Reaching these kids early and showing them the importance of recycling and helping others is something I hope they carry with them the rest of their lives. Finding those teachers who share this passion is really what makes this project a huge success.
"Seeing bikes roll in hour after hour until they are spilling out of our truck really shows them the difference they can make. By partnering with BfW we can help bring their community effort into a grander scale and connect them to remote villages and small schools around the world." Bikes collected this past weekend will be loaded this week and shipped out to partners in El Salvador and Africa.
At the high school level, many teachers step aside and let the students drive the entire event. Environment-based clubs, SGA, Honor Society... will often take on a leadership role and organize and drive the collection effort.
"There really is something for everyone in this project and we at Bikes for the World are proud to be flexible to accommodate whatever creative idea these kids throw our way."