All I Want for Christmas

November 5, 2013

Boise Bicycle Project gets kids up and riding with its annual holiday giveaway.

By Ken Levy
Photography by Copper Chadwick

They bust their knuckles for free, just so they can give their hard work away.

No, they’re not Santa’s elves, although you’re not far off. They’re the volunteers of the Boise Bicycle Project. And, with the holidays fast approaching, they’re gathering donated bikes of any condition to repair, refurbish and clean, so that the BBP can host it’s hallmark holiday Christmas Kids Bike Giveaway.

This BBP tradition pairs underprivileged children in our community with a shiny, refurbished bike to call their own.

Juta Geurtsen, Development Director of the BBP explains:

Qualifying kids 12 and under get a new-to-them bicycle during the holiday season.
“The BBP will begin recruiting kids for the giveaway in November by reaching out to area agencies that work with under-served populations,” Geurtsen said. Those agencies will then submit applications covering the children’s height, weight, age and favorite colors, so BBP can match each child with a refurbished bike.

“The kids are also asked to draw a picture of their dream bike. Volunteers then work for weeks leading up to the giveaway, wrenching on kid’s bikes,” says Geurtsen. All in an effort to make those dreams come true.

On the day of the event, kids from around the community gather for the big day. Bikes and helmets are fitted to the kids and each child gets a bicycle safety course.

Last year over 300 children received bicycles through the Christmas Kids Bike Giveaway, and the BBP expects this year’s giveaway to be just as big.

And yes, you can help.

Volunteers can help get kids bikes ready ahead of time and escort and help the little ones with fitting their bikes and helmets and guiding them through the safety class. Donations of kids bikes and parts are accepted as well, as are cash donations, which cover the costs of ensuring each child goes home with a new helmet as well as a bike, said Geurtsen. A $35 donation sponsors one kids bike for a child in need. This year BBP is offering the opportunity to sponsor a bicycle in someone’s name as a gift. Donations of bicycles and parts can be dropped off at the shop.

Founded in 2007 by Jimmy Hallyburton and Brian Anderson, BBP “is a community-oriented bicycle cooperative that promotes the personal, social and environmental benefits of bicycling,” Geurtsen explains.

This 501c3 non-profit serves as a bicycle recycling center and educational workspace with a shop at 1027 Lusk Street in Boise, near Ann Morrison Park. It is funded by sales of refurbished bicycles and parts, memberships, grants and donations. The BBP also offers an open shop space with tools, and experienced mechanics that can show you how to fix your own bike.

Shop use is charged by the hour and includes a mechanic’s assistance. Or, if you prefer, you can join BBP’s cooperative for as little as $50 a year, and receive unlimited shop time, as well as discounts on bikes and parts, and free Friday Night Bikes classes.

“Through education and access to inexpensive bicycles, we strive to build a stronger cycling community, Geurtsen said.

The annual Christmas Kids Bike Giveaway is slated for Saturday, Dec. 21 from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. To volunteer, email Clint Watson, BBP’s volunteer coordinator, at clint@boisebicycleproject.org.