Bikes for all is Scout’s big project
Doug Ramsay photo
Henry Amend of Snohomish wheels out a new bicycle to be given a final safety check and then handed to a young recipient at the Sharing Wheels nonprofit in Everett on Saturday, Dec. 12. This was one of the many bicycles Amend collected for his Eagle Scout project to give to children in need.
SNOHOMISH — A 16-year-old mountain biker and future Eagle Scout from Snohomish raised more than $3,000 to help provide 27 bikes for children of low-income families just in time for Christmas.
“(A bike) opens up a kid’s life — gives them the freedom to go as they please,” Henry Amend said. “Every kid deserves a bike at some point in their life.”
Mountain biking has been an important part of Henry’s life since he was young. The years of countless rides and learning from his father made getting his wheels on the trail Henry’s passion. When his dad pointed out a Tribune article in late October expressing the need for volunteers at the Sharing Wheels community bike shop, Henry saw an opportunity to use his project to help kids experience the same joy riding a bike.
Sharing Wheels is a nonprofit bike shop in Everett located on Broadway that has a goal to provide the community with affordable used bikes for transportation and recreation. The shop’s main source of income is refurbished bike sales but offers bike stands and tools free to use for local bikers in need of a tune-up. Even expert advice from experienced Sharing Wheels volunteers is available to anyone using shop space.
Every year, Sharing Wheels and Christmas House team up for the holidays to provide bikes to low-income families. Bikes are distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis and they often have to turn families away because of a lack of available bikes.
As a Life Scout in the process of earning his Eagle, Henry wanted his Eagle Scout project to help those in need, especially in a year filled with hardships.
When Henry contacted Sharing Wheels and told the shop of his project idea to fix up bicycles, Sharing Wheels eagerly accepted the offer. But a shortage of bikes was taking its toll on Sharing Wheels and its holiday plans.
What started as a volunteer project refurbishing donated children’s bikes quickly turned into a fundraising effort to combat the bike shortage. Henry was contacted by executive directory Christy Cowley with a request: Sharing Wheels had met its goal for volunteer hours but asked him to raise money to buy more bikes, Henry said.
Going beyond his project requirements, Henry got to work and set up an internet fundraiser with a goal of $3,000 and exceeded it in only two weeks. Henry said he was spending the money almost as soon as it came in, scouring Craigslist for used bike listings and eventually contacting Walmart to purchase new bikes.
The bike distribution took place on Dec. 12, and Henry was able to provide 27 kids with a present that will excite them for years to come.
“My project helped a lot because there were a lot of families that (Sharing Wheels) had to turn down and thanks to our bike donations they were able to fulfill those family’s needs,” Henry said. “Bike shops are definitely important in the bicycle world, and a nonprofit bike shop where they can sell parts cheaply and give bikes away and sell bikes cheaply definitely impacts the community” positively.
Sharing Wheels is not taking bicycle donations at the moment. "Our hearts are full, and so is the shop. Monetary donations are always welcome," board president Kristin Kinnamon said.
The organization reported post-publication that for the holidays, "more than 75 volunteers helped the nonprofit prepare 151 new and used bikes for low income families this fall. About 100 bikes were matched up directly with families through the Everett bike shop. Additional bikes have been distributed to the Salvation Army, Dawson’s Place, Interfaith Family Shelter, Everett High School PTA, and Domestic Violence Services." In addition, the Stillaguamish Tribe recently awarded a $5,400 grant to support Sharing Wheels' kids bike programs and volunteers. and the Everett Sail and Power Squadron donated 34 new bikes.
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