There are a TON of kids in my neighborhood. All ages. Lots of boys. Lots of girls. Some have bikes. Some do not.
One day last summer I woke up with an idea... what if I could get a bike and a helmet for every kid in my neighborhood? I asked on FB if anyone had any bikes in their garages that were no longer being used. I figured I would get maybe a few bikes and be able to help a handful of kids but the bike project exploded! Tons of people donated bikes, helmets and money.
Some of the neighborhood kids helped us clean the bikes up. Mike did a lot of the work to make sure that tires were good and brakes were working.
We started matching kids to bikes and then taking them to the store to pick out a helmet.
I posted photos of kids on their bikes to my Facebook page because I think it is fun to let people see the fullness of their good deeds. I know people enjoyed seeing a new kid on a bike they donated or wearing a helmet that they helped purchase. It was happiness all around!
Some kids had their own bikes already but needed a new tube for a tire or a helmet. We helped them.
Some kids needed to learn how to ride the bike they had. We helped them.
Some kids needed a bigger bike. They traded.
Some kids got their very first bike ever!
We had been doing what came to be called The Bike Project for a few weeks when I received a call from the newspaper. Someone had called them to share what we were doing and they wanted to do a story. We agreed to it and rounded up some of the neighborhood kids who received bikes so that they could be a part of the story.
My hope was that the story would encourage others to look around their own neighborhoods and find a need and a way to fill it.
But something I wasn't counting on was even more people showing up at my house with bikes. We started getting phone calls from people wanting to know when they could drop bikes off. We received checks in the mail from complete strangers to help buy parts and helmets. And some days we would go out for the day and come home to several bikes propped up against our fence waiting for us.
Bikes took over our small yard last summer.
We kept getting bikes and we kept finding people that needed them. And we were able to get some moms a bike too!
It was the summer of bikes. It seemed like everything we did revolved around bikes. We fixed bikes. We cleaned bikes. We gave bikes away. We took family rides. We took neighbor kids on bike rides.
It was a really memorable summer. Connecting no-longer-used bikes to kids who needed one was so fulfilling. The smiles and joy were worth the hours we put into it and the fact that we weren't able to use our small yard for anything else.
At the end of the summer we had several bikes left. My in-law's were generous with their space and gave us a place to store them for the winter. We recently picked up those bikes, made sure they were ready and we've been passing out bikes again! We do not plan to do it on the same scale as last summer... but if I meet a kid without a bike I'll see if I can find one.
I tried keeping track of how many people we helped in some way but lost track somewhere after 40. I will forever remember the summer of bikes.
Who knows what this summer will bring. :)
I hope you all take a look around your own neighborhoods and find a need and a way to fill it. Even if it's simply helping an elderly neighbor get their garbage to the curb every week. When we all pitch in and work together we make the world a better place.
Be a part of the solution... it's fun!