Bikes for the World

Friday, December 2, 2016

Featured Volunteer: YES! We Will Go Out With You

This month we honor Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI) Co-Op for their committed support to Bikes for the World. Our Featured Volunteer recognition has never been focused on just individuals and this month we want to recognize the entire REI Family. Why? Well it's not just their support of our mission, but also their commitment to our community and our environment.

This comes straight from the REI website: "Each year, REI donates millions of dollars to support conservation efforts nationwide and sends dedicated teams of volunteers—members, customers and REI employees—to build trails, clean up beaches, restore local habitats and more.... Through responsible business practices across the company, we strive to reduce our environmental footprint."

Thomas Rigger complete his Eagle Project at REI in 2015
And we recognize that REI is a family. The employees don't just run the registers, they live the life. They are outdoor enthusiasts. They are our experts to gear. They are volunteers. They  love and care for our streams, our mountains, our trails, our neighbors. They make a difference and they change our world.

Several times a year REI Co-Op invites us into their stores and helps us collect thousands of bikes to be donated around the world. Bailey's Crossroads, Woodbridge, Fairfax, College Park, Timonium, Rockville...between these locations BfW has collected nearly 3,000 bicycles over the last 12 years.

Mike, Robin, Mark, Rhonda, Vernon, Angela; these weren't just our contacts at REI during the last decade, they are huge supporters. Countless managers, mechanics, and sales associates promoted our work and encouraged bike donations.

Jeff, a mechanic at REI College Park, was recognized by BfW this fall. Patrick volunteered with us at King Farm and took his skills to the bike shop at REI Rockville. 

Just last month Catherine, an employee at the REI store, dropped off a sewing machine at our collection. She stopped and talked with us about our work and what our beneficiaries needed most. When she found out there was a great need for 24" and 20" tubes, because we rarely receive any donated to us, she went right inside and bought some to be included in our next shipment.

That's exactly the kind of employee that works at REI. Whether it's a stream clean up, bike collection, or just helping you pick the right style hiking shoe for your next adventure, the REI family brings their A Game.

Chris Richards did his Eagle Project at REI in 2005
Nobody knows REI, like a boy scout either. Biking, camping, hiking, maps, cooking gear, tents...quite a few scouts will spend quite a few hours milling about REI, especially in that new flagship store in DC. Many of our Eagle Projects over the years have found a comfortable home on an REI sidewalk.

Nine to be exact. A third of the bikes collected at REI collections have been acquired through Eagle Projects. Lately, Angela from the Outdoors Programs/Outreach Marketing division, has even taken time out of her busy schedule to work directly with the scouts to help them secure the date for their collections. Working with entities outside of just BfW really increases the value of the project for a scout.

The gang from So What Else? loves REI
Over the years REI Rockville has partnered up with BfW to work on outreach to students in Montgomery County. They were a HUGE part of our work out at King Farm. They continue to work with us and So What Else? to help bring rewarding service projects to the community including in support of Montgomery County's annual Community Service Week.

The question shouldn't be WHY are we honoring REI, but WHY did it take us this long to tell you how great they are!? If you have someone on your holiday shopping list who loves the outdoors, do yourself a favor and drop by your closest REI Co-Op. OR come out to Fairfax on December 10th and donate a bike to us before you head inside...we'll be on the sidewalk.

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