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Bikes needed for North Shore tykes
It’s the most wonderful — and busiest, and most stressful — time of the year for bike shop owner James Wilson and his band of merry mechanics.
“More are coming in,” says Wilson, putting down the phone to count the number of donated kids’ bikes that have arrived at his Obsession: Bikes shop in Lower Lonsdale on this frigid Tuesday. “Maybe six or seven,” he guesses.
That’s encouraging, but he’s still 140 bikes short and it’s already the first week of December.
In 2005 Wilson started Bikes for Tykes, a program that provides bikes for underprivileged North Shore kids.
Partnering with Family Services of the North Shore, Hollyburn Family Services and other organizations, they find tykes who need bikes for Christmas.
Since its inception, the program has, on average, given away about 100 bikes a year — but that number is steadily growing.
“The demand for the bikes is higher,” says the community-minded bike store owner.
Last year Bikes for Tykes was able to provide 150 kids with bikes for Christmas. This year, they’ve already got 220 names on their bike wish list and with only 80 collected so far, they’re desperately trying to get the word out that they need some help.
And they need them fast. That’s because once the bikes come into the shop Wilson’s crew then has to refurbish them which can range from a quick “dust up” — say 15 minutes — to an hour-and-a-half overhaul.
Then, they must get them to the kids, with many bikes getting piled into the back of Wilson’s pick-up truck for delivery.
It’s not just a commitment of time that Wilson, a 48-year-old father of two, puts into this project. Typically this isn’t a busy season at his shop but rather than reducing the hours of his mechanics he has them fixing up bikes for kids. That costs him more than $5,000 in donated labour.
Wilson doesn’t go out of his way to tell you that, you have to ask.
But he’s more than happy to tell you about others in the community who are equally generous. Last year, for instance, a group of local families dropped off $900 in cash to buy helmets to be distributed with the bikes and North Van company CCN Cycling Component Network donated bikes in bulk to the program.
For James, there’s nothing he’d rather be doing in December.
“If it changes one kid’s way to the positive, it’s 100 per cent worth it,” says Wilson. And he’s already witnessed lives changed.
“So we’re going to keep doing it.”
Bikes can be dropped off at: Obsession: Bikes, 94 Lonsdale Ave. You can also call 604-985-2213, email firstname.lastname@example.org or search Bikes for Tykes North Vancouver on Facebook