4 minutes reading time (703 words)

Featured Volunteer: Lil(l)y

Our latest shipment to the Philippines was stacked with Lily petals, or rather pedals. Flanked might be a better term. Lily (one L, on the left) recruited a team to help prep the bikes we loaded into the container. And Lilly (two Ls, on the right) rolled, lifted, and crammed them into the container. Both come to us by way of great stories so we couldn't pick just one. 

We met Lily (one L) back in May of this year when her Girl Scout troop scheduled a session to prep bikes in the warehouse. Troop 5697 was the first large group to rejoin our ranks since the pandemic. The Cadettes helped us get bikes ready for an upcoming shipment to Costa Rica. Lily had such a great time volunteering with us, she didn't hesitate to tell her parents as soon as she got home. In fact, her mom immediately emailed us to inquire if we could schedule a birthday event in June.

SURE! We LOVE the idea. We didn't know then which partner would be receiving the bikes they would be preparing but we knew we would definitely have bikes. So Lily rounded up a few of her closest friends and planned a day of service to mark her 2021 birthday the following month. In just two hours the small crew managed to finish 80 bikes which would be loaded in just a three days. The girls said they enjoyed the experience and appreciated that they were working for a good cause. It's a birthday they will all remember. 

From the Philippines , thank you Lily and your crew for prepping 80 bicycles headed this way. That's 80 essential workers who will be using them to help us have a better normal.

Bikes for the Philippines message via FB

Meanwhile, 400 miles away, another Lilly (two Ls) was packing an overnight bag and getting ready to head south to help her dad (and us!) load that container heading to our partner Bikes for the Philippines. Her mom moved to the U.S. in the 80s from the Philippines, so this shipment is close to their hearts. In fact, this was our sixth shipment to this partner, and Lilly's family has participated in at least four of the loadings, making the trip from Massachusetts each time.

This was Lilly's second container, the first nearly 10 years ago. Her family has helped collect bikes, fundraise, and load containers. They have also visited the program in the Philippines and met with some of our beneficiaries. Every year her dad, Joe rounds up some bike donations and brings them along when they come. The last few times, he's rented a van and stacked bikes from floor to ceiling. Lilly was bumped from the last trip (there was no room in the van!) when her mom and dad made the trip. But this time, we'd say she rode shotgun, but she's now old enough to share the driving duties.

Both Lily and Lilly worked hard to make this shipment to the Philippines possible this year. And both shared the experience bonding with Dad...an early Father's Day gift for both. Normally, we love to connect this container with youth volunteers because the program is centered around donating bikes to students to get to school. The past couple years, however, students have been learning from home and not commuting due to the pandemic. Bikes for the Philippines shifted gears early in 2020 to keep the program rolling by focusing on donating bikes to essential workers who were forced to walk to work when public transportation was shut down to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

They managed to redirect hundreds of bikes (whatever was still left in the warehouse after the last shipment in 2018) to hospital workers, security guards, individuals in food services and eventually teachers who were now making the commute to their students' homes. Hopefully with this resupply of bikes now on the way, and the vaccine finally reaching the Philippines, they will soon be able to redirect back to donating bikes to students as soon as they return to the classrooms. 

From all of us here in the Philippines, salamat and mabuhay po kayo!

Amanda Schoof- BfP Board
Providing Rides During a Pandemic
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