It was extra work for Chelsea Egenberger last year — heading to the Lincoln Bike Kitchen, loading bicycles into her car or her dad’s truck and then delivering them to Saratoga Elementary School students.
But it came with perks. “It was really cool to see how kids reacted,” said Egenberger, the school’s former community coordinator. “Oh, my gosh. Just watching the kids’ faces light up was really awesome.”
Last year, she delivered about 30 two-wheeled Christmas gifts as part of the Bike Kitchen’s annual Recycle-a-Cycle for the Holidays campaign, which matches donated bikes with students who need them the most.
The nonprofit launched the holiday program in 2016, giving away about 15 bikes. Last season, it distributed more than 160.
“We’d love to top that number this year and provide more bikes back to those kiddos,” said Michelle Buller, a Bike Kitchen volunteer. “But we can only give back out what we get in.”
So the nonprofit is asking for your gently used children’s bikes, mostly 20- and 24-inch models, but it also needs smaller-framed step-through 26-inch bikes. The annual donation drive kicks off from 5-8 p.m. Thursday — National Recycling Day — at the Bike Kitchen, 1635 S. First St.
“We’ll have lots of volunteers here to get bikes out of cars and into the shop,” Buller said.
Then more volunteers will get to work inspecting, cleaning and repairing the bikes in time for the December giveaways.
The nonprofit works with educators to find students who need bicycles. At first, it focused on elementary school students, but middle and high school students will benefit this year, too. The gifts keep kids active, but they also broaden their worlds by providing two-wheeled transportation.
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“It’s huge for our school,” said Alex Hyde, a physical education teacher at McPhee Elementary. “A lot of our students are low-income and can’t afford bikes.”
He works with other teachers to identify students who need bikes, makes sure they’d be able to take them home, then sends the wish list to the Bike Kitchen. He’s helped distribute nearly 70 bikes, helmets and locks, he said.
And the students are always thrilled on bike day.
“Anywhere from excited screaming to super-bright smiles and blushing,” he said. “Basically, it’s like a Christmas gift for them.”
Recycle-a-Cycle for the Holidays
* Donate good children’s bicycles -- and smaller, step-through adult bikes -- to the Lincoln Bike Kitchen so volunteers can refurbish and give to kids for Christmas.
* 5-8 p.m. Nov. 14, or noon to 3 p.m. Sundays and 5-8 p.m. Mondays.
* 1635 S. First St. (Just south of A Street overpass)
* No bike to donate? The nonprofit is also seeking volunteers and monetary donations to buy locks, helmets and other equipment.
* More info: lincolnbikekitchen.org