Franconia Mennonite Church senior high youth will be collecting used bikes this Saturday, May 19, from 9am to noon at the church on Harleysville Pike in Telford, Pa. These bikes will be repaired and distributed through Pedals for Progress, an organization that collects over 5000 bicycles a year to redistribute in countries in the global south and Eastern Europe.
The bike drive seemed like a perfect project for the active youth group at Franconia, according to drive organizer Bekah Ford. “Our youth group is interested in sports and being active,” said Ford, a sophomore at Souderton High School. “We realize that we’re blessed with the tools to do this, including bicycles. The fact that our outgrown and unused bikes could be put to use in countries of need is exciting!”
In addition to collecting bikes, the youth group hopes that this event will raise awareness of living conditions around the world. In comparison, many people in our church community have been blessed with a magnitude of resources, said Ford. “We believe these [resources] have been given to us so that we may be equipped to bless others in the name of Jesus Christ.”
The Franconia youth group has a big dream: to collect over 181 bikes so that they break Pedals for Progress’ one day collection record this year. They also are looking for donations of working portable sewing machines, bike wrenches, and funds to cover the cost of processing, shipping, rebuilding, and distributing each bike. All cash and material donations are fully tax deductible and a receipt will be available at the church.
To date, Pedals for Progress has shipped more than 133,500 bikes to developing countries in Latin America, Africa, and Eastern Europe. In these countries the bikes are reconditioned by partner agencies and distributed at low cost to low-income working adults. These bikes provide them with reliable transportation for commuting to work, transporting produce to market, or accessing health care and other services. Steady employment for these adults is vital to the development and success of these countries’ economies.
It’s a simple premise with far-reaching effects, said Ford. “We hope to inspire generosity and meet new people in the community through this event.”