OGDEN — This holiday season, the Ogden Bicycle Collective is working with Community Christmas — an event sponsored by the Ogden-Weber Community Action Partnership — to provide bikes for 100 local kids in need.
Community Christmas provides local families who are facing financial difficulty with toys, clothes and groceries for Christmas. All of these items are donations from the community. The project is completely staffed by volunteers, including its organizers.
This year, the event will be serving a record number of children — as many as 3,500 kids from 1,000 families. Last year, the event collected enough toys and essentials for 2,000 children. The number of children the event aims to serve has grown 75 percent since last Christmas.
Bonnie Randall has been coordinating Community Christmas for the past nine years. In that time, Randall says they’ve received an average of three to four bike donations a year. Providing 100 children with refurbished bikes this year will be a new milestone.
With the event only two weeks away — on Saturday, Dec. 15 — the Bicycle Collective’s goal to find 100 donated bikes may seem high, but collecting bikes isn’t the challenge.
The collective already has about 100 donated children’s bikes at their building in Ogden — so many that the bikes completely fill the classroom they use to teach kids and other volunteers.
Now the race is on to get all the bikes refurbished in time for their new owners to claim them.
So far, staff and volunteers have refurbished half of the bikes. They still have 50 to go.
Bryce Pexton, the youth program coordinator at the Ogden Bicycle Collective, is one of the staff members leading the project.
Pexton is looking forward to providing Christmas bikes for kids because of the role bikes played in his own childhood — a kind of childhood that’s not as common in the age of iPads and endless TV streaming. He says he grew up more like Calvin and Hobbes.
“Summertime wagons, bikes, water balloons, outdoors in the dirt — I think that bikes for me ... embody that kind of childhood that I grew up with,” Pexton said. “It brings me a lot of joy to see kids get a bike and love riding their bike.”
If you want to help the Ogden Bicycle Collective in this effort, they will always accept donated bikes, but what they need most right now is volunteers to help them refurbish the donations they already have.
They also are in need of volunteers with trailers and trucks who can help them transport the 100 bikes to Ben Lomond High School on Friday, Dec. 14.
Volunteers do not need to have experience repairing bikes, but experienced volunteers would be very helpful for this short-term project.
Thursdays are volunteer day, and new volunteers can drop by the collective’s building in Ogden, 936 28th St., between noon and 7 p.m. to receive an orientation and start working on bikes.
New volunteers who wish to work on this project can also drop by on the first two Fridays of December from noon to 6 p.m., when volunteers will be working on bikes specifically for Community Christmas.
Call before dropping by in case all volunteer work stations are full that day. The phone number for the collective is 801-997-0336.
The collective usually asks new volunteers to attend one of two orientations that are regularly held on Thursday afternoons and Saturday mornings. Because of the tight time frame for Community Christmas bikes, new volunteers can drop by for the Friday afternoon work session without attending an orientation.
If you volunteer, be sure to wear close-toed shoes. Teenagers under the age of 16 need to be chaperoned by an adult and need an adult guardian to sign a waiver for them.
For those who wish to support Community Christmas in other ways, the event is also in greatest need of volunteers, especially teenagers to staff a carnival at the event on Saturday, Dec. 15. These teen “elves” will run activities to entertain the children while their parents pick gifts for them. Sign up for volunteer spots at http://www.communitychristmasut.org/get_involved.
If you know a family who needs the support of Community Christmas, review the guidelines of participation and access contact information at http://www.communitychristmasut.org/guests. Bikes will be given out on a first-come, first-served basis, with 50 bikes reserved for the morning group of participants and 50 for the afternoon group.