Biking Shorts - December 19, 2012
By Barbara Schmid
A shiny bike would make any kid’s Christmas a special day. For needy kids, it turns another holiday into a memory that will stay with them the rest of their lives.
The non-profit group, Elves and More, knows this and each year gives a new bike to 1,000 or more local children. Donors fund the purchase of the bikes. Volunteers build the fleet.
I received a last-minute email from a friend asking if I was interested in participating. Yes! I had wanted to volunteer for this in year's past, but always seemed to find out about it after it was over.
This year’s bike building event took place December 15 at Van’s Warehouse. Driving up and seeing volunteers direct traffic, I knew it was a bigger happening than I had imagined.Turns out there were about 350 people of all ages helping out. Imagine that! And on a Saturday morning at 8 a.m., when everyone could have chosen to sleep in instead. The holiday spirit was definitely in high gear.
Work stations were set up between rows of stored cargo. Each station had 40 boxes of bikes to build. The group I was with, Team Priority Health, consisted of: Jim Allen, Roxane Kippin, Kevin Allen, Alan Moore, Matt Reeves, Doug Huyser, Gregg Cross and Tom Hahn. I know the Rapid Wheelmen manned a station as well. There were also many stations consisting of families with young children helping out.
Our assembly line began with pulling a bike and parts from the box and laying them on a plywood work table to unwrap. The main pieces were joined to the frame and then we moved them to a bike stand for final assembly and tightening of all parts. Once completed, someone walked or rode the bike to quality control, in which another team checked that everything was good-to-go.
Bikes in all shapes, styles, sizes and colors were assembled at the different stations. Most of ours were for the smallest size boys and girls. As we assembled a cherry red bike, several of us remembered that our first bike had been red as well. You don't forget your first bike!
We finished our quota by 10 a.m. (hey, most of this group were racing cyclists, a.k.a. competitors) so we helped other stations assemble theirs as well.
Participating in this effort was a fun and rewarding experience, and also great way to start the holiday season. This is an event well worth putting on your calendar for next year.