East Lansing Org: Helping the Poor, One Bike at a Time
Founded in 1994, Share-a-Bike is an East Lansing, Michigan-based charity that receives old, unused, discarded, and donated bicycles. Whenever practical, these bicycles are completely refurbished and then donated to the underprivileged in the community, including the homeless, new immigrants, and the poor. Last Saturday, I had the honor to work with them collecting bicycles at a local spring recycling event in the community.
For many of the recipients, the gift of an operable bicycle may be their lifeline of last resort. Either they cannot afford to purchase or maintain an automobile, may have never learned to drive a car, live too far away from transit routes, or work hours that are not conducive to transit usage. Likewise, the bicycle provides them greater mobility and reliability for job hunting, shopping, or attending school.
Share-a-Bike accepts donations of new and used bicycles as well as monetary donations. Those donations which cannot be reused are sold at a metal salvage yard and the cash generated is used to purchase bicycle helmets at a discount for those receiving the bikes. In case you are wondering if there is a ready market for such a venture, there most definitely is. According to a representative of Share-a-Bike, in each of the past three years they have given away 600 or more bicycles and could have provided even more if their donation supply had kept up with demand. He also explained how it is estimated that a minimum of $250,000 per year is contributed to the local economy if only 50 of the 600 bicycle recipients (or 8.3 percent) obtained a part-time job from having reliable transportation.
If an organization similar to Share-a-Bike exists in your community, please consider making a donation that will assist their efforts. It can be a very rewarding way to give back to your local community, while strengthening the economy at the same time.