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Donations kids bikes News Volunteers

Thank you for helping us make an impact in 2023!

By Sharing Wheels

This post is to say “Thank You”! Thank you for helping us make Snohomish County a place where anyone can ride, fix or recycle a bicycle. That’s our vision, anyway, and we did a lot to move toward it in 2023.

So far this year we have:

  • Helped 2-3 people every day we’re open, which is 5 days a week, with free Bike Repair Help.
  • Given 46 adults in need a bicycle for transportation.
  • Hosted 34 work parties with between 4 and 6 volunteers each. 54 total volunteers donated 720 hours of time!
  • Refurbished and distributed 181 kid bikes for low income families.
  • Repaired 176 bikes for free at 26 events at local libraries, senior centers, repair cafes, Explorer Middle School and First Baptist Church through our Mobile Bike Repair.
  • Accepted 441 bicycle donations to refurbish or recycle from the community.
  • Sold 283 refurbished bikes to grateful customers.
  • Conducted 18 bike maintenance classes for 35 students.
  • Helped 60 Work 4 Wheels / Bike Voucher Recipients.
  • Hired 2 WorkSource interns.

We couldn’t have done it without your support. Volunteers help staff the shop and fix bikes. Donors give directly and through corporate match programs at Boeing and elsewhere. Customers find the parts they need to keep classic bikes going, and spread the word by telling their friends about our shop and services.

We love bikes and the people who ride them. Thanks for helping us make a difference as the only nonprofit bike shop in Snohomish County. Together we make the world better – one pedal stroke at a time.

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kids bikes News Volunteers

Kids Bikes Exceed Expectations

Summer 2023

Our goal this spring was to clean and repair 55+ kids bikes in time for summer. Thanks to dedicated volunteers, we exceeded our goal and donated 64 bikes to low income families through June.

Volunteers Larry and Tony again hosted each of the 16 work parties, with assistance from our staff mechanic Andrew. Many volunteers returned again and again, refurbishing a total of 79 kid bikes that had been donated to us. *

We partnered with other organizations to get the fixed bikes to low income families. Kids got bikes through:

An additional 75 kid bikes donated to us by community members are waiting to be repaired during our Christmas House program that starts in the fall. Until then, a generous Lake Stevens resident who works for Cascade Bicycle Club heard about our need for bike storage and donated her garage.

*The extra “done’ bikes are now for sale to support the shop.

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kids bikes News Volunteers

Storage Space Needed

Have extra space in your secure, water-tight garage or shed for kids bikes and a good cause? Sharing Wheels Community Bike Shop needs space to store bikes that have been donated for our Christmas House program.

The bikes will be repaired by volunteers this fall and donated to low income families for the holidays.

If you live in Everett and have extra space to store up to 75 kid bikes from now until Dec. 1, Sharing Wheels will pay you up to $100 per month.

Sharing Wheels won’t need access to the bikes until mid-September. Once the fall kids bike program gets rolling, volunteers would need access to the stored bikes about once a week (scheduled in advance).

If you are interested in helping out this community program, please contact Executive Director Christy Cowley at ccowley@sharingwheels.org

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kids bikes News Volunteers

Bike repair volunteers love to learn

Gordon Ayars figures you’re never too old to learn to repair a bicycle.

By Kristin Kinnamon, board member

Do you like to learn new things and make children smile? That’s what motivates regular volunteers at Sharing Wheels kid bike repair parties. The events continue on Tuesday and Thursday nights through June, and anyone is welcome to attend – no mechanical experience needed.

Starting from scratch is exactly what first got 71-year-old Gordon Ayars into the shop to help one year ago. “I wanted to experience and remember what it was like to learn something absolutely new to me,” he said.

With shop staff and experienced volunteers to teach him, Gordon has learned about derailleurs, “multitudinous brake systems,” and that 27-inch tires are actually BIGGER than tires marked 27.5 inch. Gordon doesnt bike himself anymore, but he recalls many adventures biking around Snohomish County on an English 8-speed bike that he purchased for $63 in about 1964.

Marysville resident Pete Pias already volunteers in the shop every week working on adult bikes and helping customers. But he loves serving a whole different demographic through the kids bike program. He was in the shop recently when a Ukrainian mom came in with her daughter to pick up a kids bike that volunteers had refurbished. Pete wasn’t sure how much English the family knew, but one thing was clear: “The child was really cute and really happy to get a bike,” Pete says. Pete has fond memories of biking with his family when he grew up in Wisconsin. 

Memories of biking everywhere as a kid are the main reason Jeff Austin has been helping at kid bike repair parties since 2021. “I had seen an article in the Everett Herald about the Sharing Wheels holiday bike program,” Jeff says. “The importance of a bike to a kid is still fresh in my memory.” Last year, a Herald story about helping refugee families through our free bike programs included photos of Jeff. 

A retired Boeing engineer, Jeff also loves working with his hands. “I’m still fascinated by machines – a bicycle is an extraordinary machine!” he says. “The opportunity to learn is a draw as well. Larry, Tony, Andrew and Lou are all awesome and very knowledgeable instructors. I learn something every time I work in the shop.”

Like many of us, Jeff has fond memories of the various  bikes he owned and outgrew as a kid – all Free Spirits (since his dad worked for Sears & Roebuck, which sold them). “The coolest one was red, white and blue with a banana seat,” Jeff recalled.

If you’d like to relive your childhood, learn new things, and help low income families, RSVP for a Spring Kids Bike Repair Party on the Sharing Wheels Calendar. 

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kids bikes News Volunteers

Christmas House Wrap-Up

By Larry Williamson, Volunteer
Once again, Sharing Wheels Bike Shop has completed its annual effort to prepare a batch of kids’ bikes – just over 100 this year – to donate to Christmas House in Everett.

Christmas House, in its 42nd year, has a mission to provide holiday gifts to low-income youth. Starting small, Christmas House now annually provides more than 38,000 gifts to 6,000+ kids in 2,000+ families! Christmas House works year-round to make its mission happen.

Sharing Wheels Community Bike Shop in Everett is now wrapping up its 20th year. We have partnered with Christmas House essentially from the get-go – since 2003.

Support this Program

Over the past five years, Sharing Wheels volunteers have restored 136 bikes on average, annually, for Christmas House and a few similar programs. This year, Sharing Wheels hosted 18 work parties to refurbish bikes for the kids. Fifty volunteers donated 375 hours over two months, for an average of over seven people per event.

Now, as in 1981 when Christmas House was founded, there is great need in Snohomish County communities for support and assistance. Disparities in wealth and advantages not only persist, but are ever more evident. This need has increased dramatically due to the influx of refugees from parts of the world ravaged by war and instability, as in Afghanistan and the Ukraine.

In May 2022, there were about 5,400 Ukrainians in Washington State. That number jumped by nearly a quarter in June.

There are now about 1,200 Ukrainians in Snohomish County alone, the largest Ukrainian population in the state.

These refugees have to essentially begin life over again, needing life support in all areas.

I met a Ukrainian mother at Christmas House this week. She had taken the bus for the 10+ mile trip from Mill Creek to Everett. She spoke no English, relying on a translator on her phone to communicate with me. She arrived too late to get into Christmas House that day and as a result, needed to return another day to find gifts for her children. I hope she was successful later in the week, even with with an awkward cache of gifts to take home on the bus.

Years ago, the Sharing Wheels shop manager had completed the season’s bike deliveries to Christmas House. She told the staff there that the shop had a few more bikes on hand, but these were not really good enough to send over for the kids.

The Christmas House volunteer responded that she wanted those bikes too….The message was “we need them all.” It is satisfying this year to deliver bikes to Christmas House and watch them go right back out immediately with parents for their kids!

An expression considered an African proverb common to many cultures there is “it takes a village to raise a child.” From this we get “it takes a village”. A big village it is that prepares and provides gifts of all sorts to the kids of Snohomish County.

At Sharing Wheels, the Board, staff, and many volunteers – too numerous to name all commit to making the season’s effort a success. And at Christmas House, an astounding 700 plus volunteers work all year to make their program go….

For the future….

Volunteers have lots of fun and get great satisfaction from their work throughout the holidays…and new volunteers are always needed and welcomed, starting now!

Have a look at the websites for the two organizations, and find your niche in the proceedings:
www.christmas-house.org
www.sharingwheels.org

Larry Williamson has been a regular Sharing Wheels volunteer since 2012. This time of year, he coordinates all the parts and bikes needed for the Christmas House program.

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Donations kids bikes News Volunteers

Kid bikes for the holidays

A big request from us

Larry (right) giving instruction.
Fixing up kid bikes.

As you read this, our Xmas Kid Bike Work Parties will be in full swing. These workshops are something we take a great deal of pride in. Each year, Sharing Wheels refurbishes donated kid bikes to provide to local charities. They then provide them to children whose parents would otherwise not be able to afford a bike. Charities also donate bikes to children of Afghan refugees, and the need is still greater because of the influx of Ukrainian refugees this year.

All of this is to say that the need is great, and we can only do this with the help of people like you. Our needs are twofold: 

  1. We need kid bikes to repair. We are appealing to you for donations of lightly used kid bikes (any size, any brand) to fix up and donate to kids. We’re looking for about 100 total bikes and we could use about 40 more (give or take).
  2. We need volunteers to fix up kid bikes. Volunteers are vital to the operation of our work parties. Kid bikes are comparatively simpler in construction than adult bikes. Therefore, they’re easier to work on and you don’t need much mechanic experience. We can teach you everything you need to know. Also these bikes also need a good cleaning, so you can just do that if you want to! Our work parties are on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 6pm – 9pm (except Thanksgiving). You can sign up on our calendar page.

In sum, our Xmas Kid Bike Work Parties are an important program for us to recycle kid bikes and get them into the hands of kids who will ride them. And, crucially, it’s important for the kids receiving them. For children of low-income parents, the program is an example of the spirit of the holiday season. For children of refugees, it can serve as an example of the compassion that the people of this country can show to others. In both cases, it’s magical for them.

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kids bikes News

Kids Bikes Bring Joy

By Christy Cowley, Executive Director

Thanks to so many of our loyal (and brand new) volunteers who donated much of their time, we managed to successfully gift 118 refurbished kid bikes to deserving families in our community this holiday season.

All the work started back in October when we encouraged neighbors and friends to sign up and help at one of our 19 scheduled workshop parties. The spirit of wanting to help children in need was great and giving back time and energy is what so many of you did.

A total of 39 folks donated 200 hours of their time cleaning, repairing, and distributing the kid bikes just in time for the holidays. Thanks to the generosity of the Stillaguamish Tribe, Sharing Wheels was able to purchase hundreds of new parts to make each bike safe, shiny and ready to ride.

A total of 118 bikes were delivered to non-profit partners including Christmas House, Housing Hope, Domestic Violence Services, Millennia Ministries, and Dawson Place. We are so grateful to these valued nonprofit partners who take the time to successfully match each bike with a family in need.

I cannot end without giving a special ‘shout-out’ to our work party hosts Larry, Tony, and Ion who once again did a spectacular job of leading and mentoring the volunteer crews and keeping everyone well-fueled during their shifts. Thank you, guys, for your continued dedication and willingness to manage the kid-bike holiday program.

There will always be kids who need bikes, so please, everyone, plan on joining us in 2022 for another successful event. Happy holidays and ride safely!