Area residents can turn their unused bikes into a means of transportation for people elsewhere in the world.
St. Mary Magdalene Catholic Community’s Social Concerns Committee, in association with Working Bikes Cooperative, is sponsoring a Be a Hero bike drive from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, May 14 and May 15.
The bike drive will be held at the church’s old site on Badger Street, near the Waupaca Recreation Center and across from Dairy Queen.
“Working Bikes transfers bikes to projects in other countries,” said Mary Gordon, who is a member of the church’s Social Concerns Committee.
During a visit last year to the Midwest Renewable Energy Fair, Gordon saw the nonprofit organization’s founder riding a bike machine to show how it could generate electricity.
“I talked to him quite a bit and found out about their mission,” she said.
Gordon discovered that Working Bikes’ mission was a perfect fit with the mission of St. Mary Magdalene’s Social Concerns Committee.
The cooperative began in 1998 as a volunteer organization that was dedicated to recycling bikes, supporting a bike culture in Chicago, and helping local and international projects that needed bikes.
In mid-March, Gordon visited Working Bikes’ 18,000-square-foot warehouse in Chicago. It includes a storefront area were bikes are sold to local residents.
The cooperative sells some bikes to Chicago-area residents to help raise funds for the cost of shipping bikes. Donations also help cover those costs.
“They can fix about 100 (bikes) per week,” Gordon said. “They have a full-time staff of four and some part time and some volunteers.”
Each year, Working Bikes ships more than 5,000 bikes to projects in developing countries. Bikes are shipped to El Salvador, Guatemala, Peru, Uganda, Ghana, Kenya, Angola, Tanzania and Cuba.
In addition, more than 300 working bikes are given away annually to people in the U.S.
They accept all bikes and the bikes do not have to be working.
“Working Bikes transports the bikes to projects in other countries. The project may charge a nominal fee so that it is not a handout,” Gordon said. “In Ghana, they train them about how to take care of the bike.”
She said that for teachers and students, the bikes are a way for them to get to school. Many people use them to get to work.
“In many cases, the bikes are given to them as vehicles. It enables people to have some freedom, some mobility in life,” Gordon said. “We thought it was a great match for the Social Concerns Committee. It is one of our major projects for this year.”
The committee also liked the idea that some bike parts are used to make machines.
For example, in Guatemala, the nonprofit Maya Pedal improves the lives of Mayan Indians with bike machines that include bike-powered coffee huskers, water pumps, blenders and washing machines.
Working Bikes has donated about half of Maya Pedal’s total bikes, and they can be used where there is no electricity.
Bikes donated for the upcoming drive can be broken or have parts missing.
Gordon said those unable to drop off a bike on May 14 or May 15 may call her at 715-258-8439. tBikes will be picked up within a 20-mile radius of Waupaca.
“Working Bikes is nonprofit, so everything is tax-deductible. Every donor of a bike will be given a donor slip,” she said.
Monetary donations will also be accepted during the bike drive, with receipts given out to those who make such donations.
“Our goal is 100 bikes, but we’re hoping for more. Working Bikes will come and pick up the bikes. They’ll pack the bikes and take them to their warehouse,” Gordon said.
Gordon said any groups interested in holding brat frys or bake sales from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on both days of the bike drive can also contact her. “Our group, being small, couldn’t handle taking the bikes and handling food. They could keep what they make for themselves,” she said.