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Bikes bring smiles to students visiting Barnes Elementary School

Program provides refurbished bikes, repair education for underprivileged students


by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Steven Kung, co-founder of Bikes For Humanity PDX, watches as David Ortiz Soto, 6, rides a bike he's interested in at Barnes Elementary School.Victor Uriel Galvez knows exactly what he’ll use his bike for when he gets one that fits.

“I can go to my school a lot faster,” he said, “and I can go to my friend’s house and not be tired from walking.”

The third-grader at Barnes Elementary School visited his school’s gym on Sunday for the Bicycle Donation and Adoption Drive, held on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Volunteers at the event, which Bikes for Humanity PDX sponsored, collected donated bicycles of various types and sizes, repaired and refurbished those in need and redistributed them to families for prices ranging from $5 to $400. Assistance was available to help a wide range of riders find a bike to meet their financial and transportation needs.

Mechanics from Bikes For Humanity, an all-volunteer, public charity project fiscally sponsored by ImpactNW, took on the bike repairs while offering guidance and training so new bike owners can work on their two-wheeled machines at home. by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Aurora Ortiz Soto watches as her son Ulices, a fifth-grader at William Walker Elementary School, sits on a bike he's interested in during a Bikes For Humanity PDX event at Barnes Elementary School.

This is the second year Bikes For Humanity PDX held a drive at Barnes Elementary School. Last year’s event helped more than 30 riders and 11 children in the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program acquire safe, affordable two-wheeled transportation.

Steven Kung, co-founded Bikes For Humanity after starting a volunteer-run bike cooperative from his Southeast Portland home, spent the better part of his weekend at Barnes coordinating bike exchanges and repairs. The organization hosts the events at different locations every eight weeks.

“It’s been kind of busy today,” he said. “One family showed up with seven kids. We had three bike donations yesterday, and today we got more.”

With the help of grants from the SHINE Community School Program, Bikes For Humanity accepted donations and fitted around 35 bicycles for underprivileged students participating in the program. In other cases, Bikes For Humanity assigns a fair market value to an overhauled bike, which includes a free fitted helmet, a lock and a bell.

“We try the best we can to help salvage every donated bike,” Kung said.

Most bikes are priced between $100 and $200, with financial assistance available for those less able to afford them. Prices are based on the bike’s age and condition and the extent to which it was refurbished. By Sunday afternoon, about 25 bikes had been donated, while around 10 were adopted through purchases.

Bike repair education, including some paid internships, are a key part of the program’s approach.

“We offer free education so (students) can learn to fix bikes to near professional-level condition,” Kung said. “From that, high school kids will be able to teach younger kids.”

Fionn Anderson, a home-schooled 14-year-old who resides in Gladstone, found himself in a paid internship through Bikes For Humanity. On Sunday, he was pleased with his work fixing a wheel on a bike-repair mount.

“This is the first time I’ve ever been able to true a wheel and fix brakes like this,” he said, noting he took an eight-week class to reach this level of comfort and confidence. “I like working on a bike that will be given to people who can’t

afford one.”

His skills are creating a certain amount of envy with his parents and siblings.

“Now they want me to teach them so they can fix their own bikes,” he said.

For information about Bikes For Humanity PDX, visit b4hpdx.org. For information on Impact NW, visit ImpactNW.org.by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Bikes For Humanity PDX volunteers Casey ODonnell and Fionn Anderson, 14, apply chain oil to a bike during an event at Barnes Elementary School.



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