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!
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.