We're back. Or rather YOU are! This month we welcomed our first (very small) service group back to the warehouse since the pandemic started. Despite the protocols and regulations required by staff and board members, these pioneers from McLean School put their heads down and their wrenches up to help us get bikes ready for our next container. When we say 'group' we really mean two groups of two working in separate sides of our warehouse with the dock doors open and volunteers all masked. Fortunately it was a warm morning.
Even though the supply of bikes has been less than normal over the past year, the stream has been steady. What hasn't been, is the flow of volunteers, especially over the winter. We typically rely on hundreds of volunteers to help us compact bikes for the containers we ship, but during the pandemic we limited our warehouse to one volunteer at a time to help with this task. Fortunately Charity Connect helped us find families who enjoy volunteering together which helped us knock out more work during our limited sessions.
Finding a way to bring back McLean School doubled it again at a time when we needed it most. Most students need some type of volunteer service hours to graduate and over the past year it has been challenging for them to find work and earn those hours. McLean School has been working with NGOs to help their students participate in service projects and give back to the community even during these challenging times.
In fact, McLean School was also the first school back to partner with us last fall to do a bike collection at their school. In an average year BfW usually partners with two dozen schools to host service projects at their campuses. This not only brings over 1,000 bikes into our program annually but it helps hundreds of students earn those volunteer hours and more importantly they learn the value of giving back to the community. In 2020 we worked with two schools who donated 100 bikes total.
Last fall when we partnered with McLean School we were preparing to ship to a health focused project in Madagascar and needed bikes. McLean delivered. Their Day of Service had been postponed from the spring to the fall and they worked to find a safe project to engage the kids and uplift the community. In addition to collecting bikes and sports equipment, the students held a car wash to collect donations for first responders' families impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. They raised over $900. For us they added 70 more bikes to the container.
After months of delays, that container of bikes just arrived in Madagascar where it will make an immediate impact in the lives of hundreds of people in northern Madagascar. Because this school project collecting bikes was delayed from the spring to the fall, once the container arrived, those students were still at school and were able to receive an update on the bikes they collected. They could see how their effort helped boost the local economy in rural Madagascar and the bikes they donated will continue to improve access to services.
Often when a school collects bikes for our program, they choose April or May for their collection and by the time the bikes arrive overseas, school is out and we lose connection with those students. Being able to share this exciting news with the actual volunteers who made a difference was very rewarding for us and them. Looking forward to Spring 2021, which is nearly here, the pandemic has not yet released its grip on us. While we are cautiously inviting very small groups back into our warehouse, our busy collection months of April and May are again quiet. So far we have ONE collection scheduled during those two months. You can help by saving your bikes or bringing them to our warehouse to help us fill our containers for our partners who continue to struggle to recover from a very challenging year.
I can't thank you enough for the pictures and update you sent. People have been moved to tears as they realized the breadth and depth of the work Bikes for the World is doing. Seeing bikes from our Day of Service included in that delivery was VERY impactful. It is true: A PICTURE IS WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS!!Frankie Engelking- McLean School Director of Student and Community Health and Wellness