Oh sure, you may have lots of happy memories of that bike that is covered in cobwebs in your garage. But instead of holding on to the past, kiss those spokes goodbye and send your bike out in the world to become a vehicle of change.
Bikes for the World needs your donated bike, and believe me, they’ll make better use of it than you can imagine. Since 2005, they’ve shipped 40,000 bikes to 15 non-profit organizations in 11 developing countries for people who desperately need affordable transportation to get to work or school, or to provide health and education services to others.
Bikes for the World is the brainchild of Keith Oberg, a cycling nut since grad school, who worked in overseas development for years and connected with the small international nonprofits and foundations that BfW partners with today.
Keith is not interested in simply giving bikes away, although he’s built the largest bicycle reuse program in the country that ships about 10,000 bikes each year to the developing world. Instead, he sees the possibility of systemic change in these wheels of fortune – encouraging Americans to recycle, do community service and help others overseas, and empowering the poor to earn more, learn more, and lead more healthy, productive lives.
The journey begins with a local collection held by churches, scouts, rotaries, or YOU, promoted by Bikes for the World. (You can find lots of info on donating on the website.) Every person who brings in a bike is also asked to donate $10 for its shipping, storage, reconditioning and parts – which helps keep the quality of donated bikes high. Volunteers then make the bikes skinny (pedals off, handlebars torqued) and BfW takes them to storage until they can be shipped abroad to reputable charity organizations on the ground in countries from Ghana to Honduras, Gambia to Sri Lanka, and Afghanistan to Barbados. The overseas charities will then distribute or sell the bikes at cost, often on credit, to low-income people who use them in a multiplicity of useful ways.
Your bike might go to a child who has to walk miles to school– and has earned the right to a bike by getting really good grades. That can keep students, especially girls, in school and teach a powerful lesson about the rewards of studying hard. Your bike might go to a carpenter who can use a bike to carry his tools, reach more customers, and triple his productivity. That helps him support his family, send his kids to school, and grow the economy. Even repairing and maintaining your bike might create another job for someone in need.
Who knew your bike could go so far in life? To donate a bike, click here. (Collections are held mostly from North Carolina to New York, but there are other options.) Unfortunately I’m in Atlanta, so I can’t give my bike away, although I’m dying to because if I don’t have a bike, my husband can’t invite me on one of his long, excruciating treks. But you can always donate cash —click here!