Sister ACTS is a group of devoted women out of Martinsburg West Virginia who deserve our highest praise. One of the group's leaders, Sue Ann Palmer, contacted Bikes for the World a little over a year ago to invite us to speak to the group. Outreach Coordinator Yvette Hess made the trip up to Otterbein United Methodist Church in Martinsburg, where the group meets monthly. After introducing the women to the program, they immediately welcomed the organization into their mission.
A first time collection can be a bit like throwing a party...you're never sure how many people (or bikes) might show up. Sue Ann Palmer took this project under her wing and managed the event for us, setting a goal of 100 bikes. In an effort to reach that goal, the group started collecting and storing bikes early. They picked up a few and secured promises from donors that they would deliver bikes to the church the day of the event.
By April, we were back at Otterbein UM, Martinsburg for the first ever Sister ACTS bike collection. While this collective group of ladies may have never flipped over a bike to remove a set of pedals before, don't let their non-greased-stained attire fool you. They may have recruited a husband or two to assist prepping bikes at the collection, but the Sister ACTS were out in force and didn't shy away from a pedal wrench or even rusty pedal.
When Bikes for the World arrived early that morning, they had easily surpassed their goal. By noon, our truck, packed with bikes, was on the way back to DC even before the collection ended. The volunteers grabbed the surplus bikes and rolled them back into their storage garage for later. Yvette then packed her car with nearly 30 sewing machines and crossed her fingers the engine would haul them back over South Mountain and back to Rockville.
But Sue Ann didn't stop there. She then arranged to work with our other Otterbein UM partner in Hagerstown Maryland to deliver the remainder of bike to their storage facility making it more convenient for us to get the rest of their bikes later the same month. In total, Sister ACTS not only met their 100 bike goal, but they shattered it with 356 bikes. This for the record, pun intended, is a Bikes for the World inaugural collection record!
The Sister ACTS (Actively Caring Through Service) understand the value and impact of projects like BfW. When we suggested the $10 per bike recommendation from donors, they set out to make sure that goal was also met. They turned over more than $3,000 along with the bikes. This financial support helps us pay for the rental trucks, gas, storage and handling of the bikes until they arrive with our partners overseas.
We were able to track some of the actual bikes donated through this collection site and found them being unloaded in Ghana with our partner there, Village Bicycle Project. They were also a huge supplier of the 60 plus sewing machines donated to partner MiBici in Costa Rica last year.
Just last month Sister ACTS invited us back to their December Tea, a fundraiser featuring a couple area non profits. Bikes for the World was honored to be included in this thoughtful event. Through this holiday party we received another $800 from the group. And we are more than excited to partner with them again for another bike collection this spring.