Just as Santa’s elves have to work all year to make their quota on Dec. 24, Burbank’s Bike Angels are already busy attempting to double their goal for delivering bicycles to kids this Christmas.
In 2008, the Salvation Army placed an angel tree in the city’s Community Services building. Kids (or, more often, their parents) could write their Christmas wishes and place them on the tree, and the community would help Santa fill the orders.
Pease, a city employee, saw that the program could be used to match children with bike donations. She involved city employees at the recycling center and the Fire Department to help collect the bikes and coordinate volunteers to refurbish them. By working with the Salvation Army, she could distribute them to underprivileged kids.
“It’s kind of taken on a life of its own,” Pease said.
In the first year, the city collected 20 bikes, then 65. Last year, the city distributed 146 ship-shape rides, and the Burbank Police Department provided helmets to go along with the gifts.
“There’s a very wide-eyed, excited response from everybody — volunteers, donors....” Pease said. “Bikes are a big gift. We have them looking like nearly showroom condition.”
This weekend you can dust off an old ride and give it a new life. The Bike Angels will set up a collection station at the Burbank Town Center June 16-17 in the Sport Chalet wing inside the mall. Some businesses will be offering discounts and gifts to donors, and they expect a big turnout.
“I want 150 bikes. That’s Elaine’s goal and I want to meet it right here,” said Linda Maxwell, the mall’s events coordinator.
Maxwell’s job is to host events at the mall that in some way benefit Burbank charities. And with a big gift like a bike, you need a lot of room to set up the collection.
So far this year, the city has received 75 bikes. If the mall hits its target, the Bike Angels will be on their way toward continuing their trend of doubling the donations each year.
And it all started with Pease — who can’t ride a bike.
Her parents bought her one once, but as she puts it, “I couldn’t stay on that bike for anything.” Doctors tested her and found she had no balance in one ear.
“I was really good on a tricycle,” she joked.
By the time Christmas rolls around, the Bike Angels will have completed their restoration work. Pease said the reaction from families — and the worthwhile work of the army of volunteers — becomes its own reward.
“I have more appreciation and amazement for people who have just showed up and volunteered,” Pease said.
If you can’t make it to this weekend’s collection, you can arrange a bike donation by calling the Recycle Center at (818) 238-3900, or Pease at (818) 238-5286.
BRYAN MAHONEY is a recent transplant from the East Coast. When he’s not cruising the bike lane, he can be reached at 818NewGuy@gmail.com and on Twitter @818NewGuy.