Volunteers roll along at Buck$ 4 Bikes assembly event
Bicycles remain ever-popular on youths' Christmas wish lists even though their world often revolves around the latest tech gadgets.
The faith-based Salvation Army Central Oklahoma Area Command Women's Auxiliary keeps this in mind each year as they raise funds through their "Buck$ 4 Bikes" initiative.
The program was started in 2006 by women's auxiliary member D’Anna Pulliam because the No. 1 requested item on Angel Tree children's wish lists was a bicycle. The Salvation Army's Angel Tree program is an effort to help children from needy families.
Every July, the auxiliary distributes more than 100 countertop red kettles to businesses across Oklahoma and Cleveland counties to collect donations. Every penny donated goes to order $37 to $62 un-assembled bikes from Ohio-based Huffy Bicycles in September. FedEx provides free delivery in early December. Volunteers assemble the bikes, and the Oklahoma Bicycle Society supplies a helmet for every bike donated.
Later in the year, volunteers ranging from individual cyclists, to families and civic clubs, gather at a metro-area warehouse to assemble the bicycles and tricycles destined to be placed under metro Christmas trees. Individuals from the bicycle society, along with groups like Rotary Clubs, Kiwanis, Oklahoma Earthbike Fellowship and professional bicycle mechanics from area bicycle shops, typically give their Saturday free time to assemble the bicycles.It took about three hours for more than 200 volunteers to assemble 1,347 bicycles during the 2018 assembly event.
One of the volunteers, Ilya Golberg, of Oklahoma City, was volunteering to build bikes for the fourth year. He said it takes about 10 to 15 minutes for him to assemble a child's bike. However, he said how fast a bicycle can be assembled is not as important as making sure it is assembled right.
The 2018 assembly gathering was Greg Hincke's first year to help build bicycles. Hincke, a member of the Oklahoma Bicycle Society, said he works at Tinker Air Force Base.
Maj. Susan Ellis, who is The Salvation Army Central Oklahoma area commander, along with husband, Stephen, shared her gratitude for the volunteers' efforts.
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