On Friday, volunteer Ed Jensen diligently worked fixing a child’s bicycle to get a head start on the project’s holiday goal. As he spoke, he took the back tire off the bike. It had a leak and for someone to own and love the bike in the future, it will need to be fixed.
“When you are a part of a community, you need to be just that — a part of the community, which entails some sort of charity,” said Jensen, a retired teacher from the Academy of Arts, Careers and Technology in Reno.
The Reno Bike Project along with an expected 30 volunteers, according to program director Anthony Arevalo, plans to repair about 40 children’s bikes before Christmas and donate them to the Children’s Cabinet. Most of the work was done on Saturday when the nonprofit held its third annual Free Wheels for the Kids volunteer day.
“I believe it is terribly important to do something for the community,” Jensen said. “What is happening here is happening a few other places in the country. Could you image what this community would be like if everyone did their part?”
Jensen, an avid biker who has pedaled his way back to Reno from Portland, Ore., said not only is volunteering important but by fixing the bicycles, the Reno Bike Project is giving children a bike to own and be proud of.
“The whole bicycle thing, it has so few negatives,” Jensen said with a smile. “It’s good for your health, it is great for the environment and for the community.”
Reno Bike Project shop manager Johnny Daggett agreed.
“I started cycling just to get around, and for health reasons and environmental reasons,” Dagget said Friday as he fixed an electric blue bicycle.
Daggett said he volunteered for the Reno Bike Project after seeking it out to learn how to repair his own bike. Volunteers and donations are the two things the nonprofit needs plenty of.
“We’ll probably get about 40 bikes done,” Daggett said of the nonprofit’s donation to the Children’s Cabinet. “They’re all donations. Throughout the year, we get a lot of kid’s bikes and we don’t sell them all, so we fix them up and donate them.
“I think it’s a really good way for them (the kids) to have fun and get around,” Daggett added. “They can go to the park and ride around. It adds a level of freedom a kid can have.”
Mike Pomi, executive director of the Children’s Cabinet, echoed Daggett’s belief. He said some of the children who receive bicycles will use them to get to work, school or extracurricular activities. However, Pomi added, just owning a bike is enough excitement for some of them.
“Like every kid at Christmas, they get a bicycle, which some families might not be able to afford,” Pomi said. “The kids get to pick them out. They back up with this huge truck, just filled with bikes. It’s an amazing sight.
“I watch kids wheel a bike out of here with excitement because they’ve received something they might otherwise not get,” Pomi added. “The Children’s Cabinet appreciated the Reno Bike Project’s hard work. It is a labor of love on their part. Every time they see a kid on a bike, they should feel like they’ve made a difference.”
Arevalo said the bicycle is a powerful thing.
“I think for all of us that are included believe in the bicycle,” Arevalo said. “It is an amazing tool. Our hope is to get more people on bikes. It is our hope to have Reno and Sparks turn into a more bike-friendly place.”
The Reno Bike Project is located at 541 E. Fourth St. in Reno. For more information, to donate or to volunteer, visit www.renobikeproject.com or call 323-4488.