Thursday, May 23, 2013
If you've ever felt compelled to give the clothes off your back – metaphorically or literally – to someone or something, you understand what's at stake here.
When asking about the Charleston chapter of Bicycles for Humanity, Alicia Lovell removed the organization's promotional bracelets off her wrist and gave them up without hesitation. Sure, the bracelets – the ones similar to the Livestrong variety – probably only cost a few bucks, but the message became clear.
But, she wanted someone else to have them to better understand the campaign. It worked.
Lovell and chapter founder Chris Tate have rallied behind the charity that recycles used bicycles and donates them to the needy. Tate, a dean of students at Porter-Gaud Middle School, founded the organization last spring after driving by a dumpster with a bicycle ready to meet its doom.
“I was coming home from school one day and saw someone was throwing away a perfectly good mountain bike,” he said, last Tuesday afternoon. “By the time I got home, I had three bikes.”
Always looking for ways to involve Porter-Gaud students in community service projects, Tate went online to see if there was a charity organization accepting discarded bicycles. He found bicycles-for-humanity.org.
A school year later, the Charleston chapter raised $3,000 and has received 125 donated bicycles to be sent to Namibia, Africa. Donations are being accepted until Tuesday. If interested in helping, email Tate at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tuesday served as Field Day for Porter-Gaud students, so the school included a station for people to disassemble bicycles in order to be transported via a shipping container.
Tuesday afternoon, the Atlanta chapter is bringing a truck to take Charleston's fleet of bikes and add it to the 300 it has collected. Then, a shipping container will be delivered to Namibia. The container will stay as a retired container and serve as a bike shop for locals to learn how to fix and assemble bicycles to help people who have to walk miles to get food and water.
“We didn't expect to ship any this year, but then the partnership happened,” Tate said of the campaign exceeding expectations.
When he took on the project, he was by himself before Lovell offered her help. “I was looking to get involved in something,” she said. “Chris started talking about this project, and I asked him how many people he had helping him. He went like this,” she said, motioning “0” with a hand.
She's a mother of a Porter-Gaud student and said the children have responded well to it. “They love the idea,” she said. “They're fired up.”
By working to improve the lives of the African village people, the organization is also helping Charleston students think outside of their city. “My goal is to really have them think of people other than themselves,” Tate said. “This changes their (Namibians) quality of life.”