I've been a longtime lurker and occasional ride-joiner, but I've decided to break my silence because I'm wondering whether I could get your help with something.
The nonprofit where I work, Mercy Home for Boys & Girls, has a campaign going until April 18 to buy bikes for the kids who live at our residential home, and we could use your help!
Our organization assists about 600 disadvantaged kids from the Chicagoland area each year through our residential, mentoring, aftercare, and referral services. We are currently in need of bikes for the 170 youth ages 11-21 who live in our residential programs in the West Loop and Beverly. (The few bikes we have now are less than reliable.)
Our youth will use the bikes to get to school, after-school jobs and internships, and to explore the city. We also want to teach them about sustainable transportation, give them an easy and fun way to get exercise, and show them how to take care of a bike.
Our campaign is on Groupon Grassroots until April 18, where donations are being matched by Diana's Bananas. Every (matched) $100 we raise will buy our kids a bike, helmet, lights for the bike, and a repair kit.
You can give in increments of $10 here:
Even $10 goes a long way. Thank you for helping us improve the lives of needy kids and get younger cyclists out on Chicago's streets!
Mercy Home for Boys & Girls
This sounds like a laudable effort, Amanda. Have you talked to bike manufacturers yet to see if they'll donate the bikes outright? Even bikes with imperfect paint jobs or out-of-style models might do. Might be more attainable than raising tens of thousands of dollars for retail-priced bikes.
Thanks for the suggestion, Thunder Snow. I do know we've tried that in the past and it hasn't worked out like we'd hoped so we're trying a different approach this time. And, while tens of thousands of dollars would be amazing, we're happy with whatever people can help out with. That said, the more bikes we can buy, the more of our youth can use them at once. Thanks again!
You can contact Working Bikes. They usually have more kids bikes than they know what to do with. Kids bikes are usually lightly ridden, and generally Working Bikes has low mileage kids bikes that can be donated to Mercy Homes. www.workingbikes.org
I believe chainlinker Paul Fitz works at Working Bikes.
Thanks, Juan Primo. I recently bought a vintage racing bike at Working Bikes, and it's a great bike and a great organization. However, almost all our youth are too tall for kids' bikes (ages 11-21). And while I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Working Bikes to any adult who asked me where to buy a bike, we have to face the reality that we're buying bikes for teenagers. We need bikes that they'll ride, that aren't going to require maintenence specific to each bike that our staff may not have the capacity for, or that could end up costing us more in repairs in the long run.
I'm with you on believing bicycle recycling is important. But what we need to do now is to give our kids incentive to get out riding, and to make it as easy for them as possible. We hope once they've got that under their belts that they'll be empowered to see that recycled bikes are also an excellent option.
Thank you again!