Metro Detroit partners hope to raise 5,000 children’s bikes – The Oakland Press


A Metro Detroit partnership, Free Bikes 4 Kidz Detroit, aims to distribute thousands of bikes to Michigan kids.

From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, October 2, anyone can donate used bikes at Home Depot stores in Michigan. These bikes will be delivered to Piston Group ‘s 30,000 square foot warehouse located at 4015 Michigan Avenue in Detroit, where they will be refurbished.

Volunteers work in the warehouse to prepare the bikes for Christmas. (Free Bikes 4 Kidz Detroit)

Volunteers of all skill levels are needed between October 2 and December 9 for clean-up and repairs. Bob Barnes, executive director of Free Bikes 4 Kidz Detroit, said that probably 20-30% of volunteers are qualified enough to do serious repair work on the bikes.

Free Bikes 4 Kidz Detroit is eighth of 12 affiliates in the United States and second behind founding group in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The Metro Detroit subsidiary began in 2018. By 2019, approximately 2,600 bikes had been collected and distributed statewide to groups, such as church or school groups, who applied on behalf of children.

Legendary professional cyclist and two-time Olympian Frankie Andreu helps a child take the size of a bicycle. (Free Bikes 4 Kidz Detroit)

To date, the organization has distributed nearly 5,000 bicycles while all national affiliates have distributed nearly 100,000 bicycles.

Barnes said the organization is working with the Piston Group, founded by former Detroit Pistons player Vinnie Johnson.

“Our collaboration with FB4K Detroit on behalf of our children is an important priority for our

business and our community, ”Johnson said in a statement. “We need hundreds of volunteers over the next three months to help prepare the bikes. It is a perfect opportunity for organizations or businesses looking for positive, charitable and team building activity.

Barnes previously worked in the automotive industry as a supplier. An COO now at Piston Group was working with him and other members of the team, which became this recent partnership.

“We spoke with them at the right time,” said Barnes.

There are three different types of volunteers: cleaners who rid bikes of grease and general dirt; Preppers that can change bike tires, saddles, grips and pedals; and then those who can play with advanced parts to make bikes run like new.

In 2019, there were approximately 1,500 volunteers. The event took place in 2020, but volunteers have shrunk to around 600.

A child receives a new bicycle and a helmet. (Free Bikes 4 Kidz Detroit)

While the goal is to collect 5,000 bikes, Barnes said pandemic bicycle sales could impact those numbers. It is not known if more people took older bikes that may have been sitting in basements or garages and tried to fix them for themselves or for others.

“It’s really gratifying to see the kids get the bikes at the end of the season,” said Barnes. “We live in a time when kids have so much screen time and don’t come out and play freely like I maybe did in my generation. It is not only an opportunity to start childhood healthily, but it is this freedom. It opens up your world.

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