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Bikes for Christmas

It’s a classic Christmas wish for kids: to find a bicycle under the tree. But for some families, a bike is a luxury they can’t afford. That’s why a group of volunteers is dedicated to recycling used bikes and giving them away to those in need. This UMTV encore from 2006 introduces us to the volunteers who make it happen.

 

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(Locator: Port Charlotte, Florida)

A long way from the North Pole, there’s another busy workshop.

Nat/Warehouse: “Now comes the hard part.”

But here, there are no new bikes, only broken ones – that will soon be helping broken souls.

Paul Lawrence/Volunteer, Edgewater United Methodist Church: “Bicycles – whether you give them away, whether you work on them, it changes your life.”

Instead of letting these bikes rust, volunteers give them a new purpose.

Paul Lawrence/Volunteer, Edgewater United Methodist Church: “We totally rebuild them.”

The bicycle ministry sponsored by Edgewater United Methodist Church in Port Charlotte, Florida starts with unclaimed bikes rounded up by police.

Church members Paul Lawrence and his wife, Linda, have given away more than 700 bikes in the last year, picking up new skills along the way.

Linda Lawrence/Volunteer, Edgewater United Methodist Church: “I told my husband I wasn't going to be a gopher. I was going to do this ministry I was going to get just as dirty and work on bikes.”

Some of the bikes are Christmas presents for families in need.

Judy Ault/Port Charlotte Resident: “This will be a surprise to her, when we take it home for her.”

Others go to children in foster homes … to those living in halfway houses trying to kick drug and alcohol habits … and to those without homes. Lawrence Lee is homeless, and helps repair the bikes.

Lawrence Lee/Volunteer: “It's to a person with a job and a home the same as what their car is for them. It's transportation.”

For Paul Lawrence, working on bicycles started as a way to occupy time after retirement…and has now become his gift to others.

Paul Lawrence/Volunteer, Edgewater United Methodist Church: “There's no doubt about it that, when we enable people, it definitely changes lives – a lot of lives.”

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The bicycle ministry is self-supporting and repairs hundreds of bikes each year. Some bikes are sold through a church thrift store to raise money to buy parts for repairs. But most are given away to the homeless, migrant workers, senior adults and children.

For more information on the bicycle recycling program, contact Edgewater United Methodist Church in Port Charlotte, Florida at 941-625-3039.

For more videos like this, visit our Advent and Christmas page.

This video was produced by United Methodist Communications in Nashville, TN.
Media contact is Fran Walsh, 615-742-5458.

This video was originally posted in November 2006.