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'We gave away so many' — Lincoln Bike Kitchen needs bikes for students who need bikes
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'We gave away so many' — Lincoln Bike Kitchen needs bikes for students who need bikes

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You would think that things like disinfectant wipes, face masks and certain household items would be the hot commodities during a pandemic. Turns out our current global situation is having an impact on industries we don’t often think about. Veuer’s Johana Restrepo.

Over spring break, Ron Kellogg III helped haul 15 refurbished bikes, helmets and locks to the Dawes Middle School Community Learning Center.

And the students he supervises were in for a surprise when they returned to their after-school program.

“It was really cool to take them to the back and show them,” said Kellogg, the center’s school community coordinator. “A lot of the kids, when they walked in, they already knew what bikes they wanted by the color.”

Lincoln Bike Kitchen quieter during coronavirus pandemic, but still giving away hundreds of bikes to kids

Those bikes — and 10 more that went to a Dawes physical education teacher — came courtesy of the Lincoln Bike Kitchen, which last fall started partnering with the school-based community learning centers.

Since October, the all-volunteer nonprofit has donated 210 bikes to more than a dozen centers, according to the tally taped to a door. McPhee: 37. Everett: 30. Huntington: 17. And more.

The pandemic may have forced the Bike Kitchen to close its cramped shop to the public and suspend some of its programs, but its core group of mechanics has still been showing up, wrenching new miles into secondhand bikes.

On average, they spend 10 minutes to two hours on a donated bike, depending on its condition, said Clayton Streich, a board member and mechanic.

They fix flats, straighten wheels, replace cables, grease bearings and give them a quick clean.

Bike Kitchen 4.15

Skye, a 12-year-old black lab, takes it easy on the floor of the shop while Leonard Campbell (right)l works to fix a bicycle at the Lincoln Bike Kitchen on Thursday.

The kitchen has donated bikes to schools for years, but its partnership with the learning centers is new, Streich said. And it’s in so much demand the nonprofit’s bike inventory —  which once grew to 150 ready-to-go bikes — is getting thin.

“We’ve been passing them out faster than we’ve been fixing them. We gave away so many all of a sudden our shop was getting a little emptier.”

'More to bikes than just pedaling around' — Lincoln Bike Kitchen fixing dozens of bikes for students to ride, learn from

So the Lincoln Bike Kitchen is putting out another call for donated bikes, with just a few guidelines.

* Volunteers will be at the Bike Kitchen, 1635 S. First St., from 9 a.m. to noon Mondays and 5-7 p.m. Thursdays to accept donations.

* Bikes with 24-inch wheels are at the top of its wish list, because they best fit older elementary and middle school students. But it also needs bikes with 20-inch wheels.

* Road bikes aren’t popular with students, and rust-buckets can consume too much of a volunteer’s time, Streich said. But they’re not that picky. “We’ll take anything that’s a respectable bike.”

* For more information, go to lincolnbikekitchen.org or visit its Facebook page.

How to help the Bike Kitchen help kids who need bikes

The goal of the bike drive is simple, Streich said. Get more bikes to the Bike Kitchen, so its volunteers can get more bikes to the learning centers.

And so the centers can get the bikes to its students. At Dawes, many of the students must walk to and from school. Many didn’t have bikes or needed new ones.

After he heard about the partnership, Kellogg worked with school administrators and guidance counselors to identify the students who needed bikes the most. He got in touch with the Bike Kitchen, put in an order and, on giveaway day, watched the students revel in their new rides.

“I think it meant the world to them,” he said. “It was neat to see.”

Reach the writer at 402-473-7254 or psalter@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSPeterSalter

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