The idea for the Holiday Kids Bike Bonanza was conceived of just before Thanksgiving. At the shops we've put thousands of kids on bikes, but we had never organized an off-site bike giveaway or sale. We gave ourselves four short weeks sandwiched between two major holidays to figure out the logistics, raise the funds, get the word out, and make it happen. We managed our expectations.
The day of the event we woke up to 25 last minute registrations. We had to shut the sign-up page down to make sure we would have enough bikes for all the kids that wanted one.
That night, a small crew of energetic volunteers had 30 minutes to transform an elementary school cafeteria into an ultra-efficient bike distribution center. They had been at it for about 5 minutes before the first families showed up.
When the clock struck 5:30pm, parents and kids started checking in and moving through the cafeteria. Volunteers helped fit children on bikes and with helmets, helped them learn how to ride across the cafeteria, and guided them to the decoration station to bedazzle their bikes and helmets with stickers, ribbons, and streamers.
By 8pm, over 60 kids had walked out of the school proudly pushing their new rides, smiling ear to ear. The volunteers were beaming, too. The parents were beaming. Everyone was beaming.
In so many ways, the Bike Bonanza was a reflection of what Old Spokes Home & Bike Recycle Vermont has been in 2016: fast-moving; striving to be radically accessible; centered around bicycles, but really about the connections they make and the opportunities they provide; staying on our toes while trying new things.
The Holiday Kids Bike Bonanza couldn't have happened without a beautiful web of people: those who donated bikes this year; the volunteers who show up at Bike Recycle Vermont every week; the teachers and administrators who reached out to children and families; the people who donated a total of $1,766 online and at the Old Spokes Home register to support the event; the parents who bundled up their kids and braved the cold to come to the event; and the amazing crew of volunteers who hustled all night to make the Bonanza a reality.
Likewise, Old Spokes Home & Bike Recycle Vermont couldn't use bikes as a tool to connect and empower people throughout the year if it weren't for the impassioned, engaged community members -- like you -- who donate bikes and funds, volunteer, partner with us, attend our rides, events, and classes, participate in and give us feedback about our programs and services, and who make Old Spokes Home their local bike shop.
Thank you for making it happen. All of you.
Check out the rest of the photos from the Bonanza on our Flickr. And if you're feeling inspired, consider making an end-of-the-year gift to support more good stuff happening in our community with bikes.
Let's keep working together to make 2017 even better.
Old Spokes Home & Bike Recycle Vermont
a.k.a: Benito, Brendan, Christine, Dan, Jeremy, Jim, Laura, Sam, & Seth