DETROIT (WXYZ) — Volunteers are at work now so that the bikes filling a warehouse on Detroit’s west side will be ready to make Christmas merrier for several thousand local kids.
“We see kids every year that are maybe 10, 12 years old that receive a bike, they’ve never had a bike before. Some might not know how to ride a bike, but they’re excited to get it,” said Bob Barnes for Free Bikes 4 Kidz.
Free Bikes 4 Kidz is the organization that makes it possible—with help from a lot of volunteers--and all those who donate their used and unused bikes.
“If the alternative is to put it on the curb versus give it to another child, everybody wants to see the bike go to another kid to get that feeling of independence and job you get when you ride your bike for the first time,” said Barnes.
A successful collection drive this month in partnership with Home Depot brought in 2300 bikes. They’re now housed in a warehouse of the Piston group, the company started by former Pistons great Vinnie Johnson. Vinnie’s teammate then and now—James “Buddha” Edwards says providing the space was an easy yes.
“This is the first warehouse that Vinnie started his business in,” said former Piston James Edwards.
"We had a space for them to fix the bikes and store the bikes and it was no problem with Vinnie, Vinnie was for it right away,” he added.
Edwards is still 7’1 and he still enjoys riding his own bike, though 36-inch wheels are necessary to accommodate his length.
“It’s great exercise for the kids, keeps them off X-Box and you know, kids love to get outside and have that freedom, that’s what it’s about, getting that freedom,” said Edwards.
The donated bikes need to be cleaned and many are also in need of repair.
Michael Cook is volunteering for a third year--making sure the bikes will be ready.
“It is a lot of labor, we’re going to need a lot of volunteers to fix up all the bikes that are here but the end result of having a bike that is number one, safe, but number two, functional, for the fun part of it as well, is a huge thing for us,” said Cook.
Orelia Brown-Burrow is a volunteer and also a School Counselor in Detroit. Dozens of her students at J.E. Clark Preparatory Academy received bikes last year.
“It’s their way of exploring and seeing the world and things they didn’t see before, right, so I wanted that experience for my students. So, if there was any way I could make it happen, I was going to make it happen,” said Brown-Burrow.
Free Bikes 4 Kidz is always looking for volunteers or if you know someone that would benefit from a new bike at Christmas please reach out for details