Broken and abandoned two-wheelers, tricycles, tag-alongs and unicycles roll onto decades-old family farm land and soon pedal out, refurbished and ready to present, like-new, to kids and people in need.
Bikes4Kids makes dreams come true, repairing and renovating used bicycles in its Constance Boulevard shop, situated on the Al and Betty Sannerud family farm in Ham Lake.
The Robert and Wilma Burbach Bike Foundation, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization operating as Bikes4Kids, was founded for the purpose of collecting recycled bicycles, refurbishing and redistributing them to kids and needy people of the world.
Today there are about 225 bicycles resting on the property, some lined up in a Quonset hut, some standing under two tents and some on shelves in the loft of the newly erected shop building.
“We get bikes from recycling centers, businesses, families and individuals, and we have a whole process to go through before they are delivered to those in need,” said Cindy Bailey, coordinator of Bikes4Kids requests and delivery.
That process involves evaluation and triage, repairs and refurbishing, inspection, identification and finally contacting the requesting group or individual to make delivery plans.
“Each bike is given a thorough evaluation; then we get to work and spend the time necessary to get each one in like-new condition,” said volunteer mechanic Dave Hauschild as he put finishing touches on a mountain bike in the Bikes4Kids shop.
Each bike is given away free of charge with safety and maintenance instructions and a helmet.
Bikes4Kids is an all-volunteer organization of people from all walks of life, said Bailey, who counts 20-25 active volunteers on the bike repair roster.
Those volunteers donate six to eight hours a day, two or three days each week to collect, refurbish and deliver bicycles to kids and families and people in need. Volunteers who donate one or two hours at a time are also part of the work force getting bikes fit and ready to deliver.
From triage to delivery, bikes get to the recipient in an average of two weeks’ time after receiving the request, said Bailey.
Last week Bikes4Kids delivered seven bikes to Stepping Stone Emergency Housing in Anoka, three to Anoka County and seven or eight to the Manna Market food distribution program at Linwood Covenant Church on Viking Boulevard. Volunteers are currently working to ready bikes requested for Nystrom and Associates mental health counseling center, Emma B. Howe YMCA and Cycle Health.
“Also, we give 85 bikes to the Christmas Committee every year and every three months we send bikes to Gambia (a small West African country), where a bike is the difference between school and no school because that’s the only way they can get to school,” Bailey said.
She also noted a request for 50 bikes from a group in River Falls, Wisconsin, that is trying to start a bike share program there.
“Our numbers are really growing,” Bailey said.
“Bikes4Kids began in 2011 and the first year we gave away less than 100 bikes. The next year, we gave away 200, then 350 the third and fourth years. This year we might beat 500. We’ve really been busy,” she said.
As a nonprofit organization with an all-volunteer work force, Bikes4Kids operates on funds from fundraisers, donors, sponsors and individuals.
Donations of any amount are greatly appreciated, Bailey said.
Volunteers are also always welcome to help with the bicycle renewing process. And, of course, Bikes4Kids is eager to accept donated bicycles.
Bikes4Kids accepts bikes that are in good working condition that can be refurbished to give away or bikes that can be recycled for parts to fix other bikes. Donated bicycles can be dropped off at these locations:
-Trailhead Cycling, 11350 Aquila Drive N., Champlin (during regular business hours).
-Pioneer Cycle, 12741 Central Ave. NE, Blaine (during regular business hours).
-Faith Lutheran Church, 11115 Hanson Blvd. NW, Coon Rapids (call 763-755-3530 before delivering).
-Ramsey Bicycle, 6825 U.S. Highway 10, Ramsey (during regular business hours).
-Blaine Recycling, 10801 Town Square Drive, Blaine (on the third Saturday of the month, May to October).
If a bicycle cannot be delivered to these sites, contact Bikes4Kids to arrange for it to be picked up.
Contact information and more details about Bikes4Kids can be found at Bikes4KidsMN.org.