May 23—Children and adults lined up in the parking lot of Toledo Gospel Rescue Mission to get their hands on bikes as the Mission Mall donated nearly 500 repaired bicycles to the community.
Saturday's event provided an opportunity for parents to provide bikes for their children just in time for summer. Mother Nita Stevens said her son, Jalen Stevens-Smith, is excited about his 'big boy' bike.
Ms. Stevens said she's hoping to break her son free from his electronics and enjoy some of the warm weather by bicycling.
"My friend sent me the event this morning on Facebook and we came. He's one of the kids that like to play on the switch and his tablet and I just want to get him out more," she said. "With the pandemic, we've been inside and we've put on some weight so I'm hoping for us to get to spend more time outside. He has a bike at home with training wheels but he wanted to get a 'big boy' bike, so I decided we'd come."
Father of six, James Newson, said he's happy to be leaving with six new bicycles.
"I heard about the event through my mom. I think it's positive and helps the kids get a bike. These days a lot of kids are into electronics but this will help them get out and exercise instead of being in the house and playing on the tablets," Mr. Newson said.
Kelly Llanas, executive director of the Toledo Gospel Rescue Mission, said the donations began pouring in last year during the pandemic.
"These are bikes from people who donated throughout the community last year and we decided to host this as a means of getting [the bikes] into the community because we couldn't get them out as we normally would because of the pandemic," Ms. Llanas said.
Ms. Llanas said the mission's garnered a lot of support from Toledo area stakeholders including local bike shops such as Wersell's and Reggie's.
"We had several community partners that came out and helped us. Libertarian Motorcycle Club is here fixing bikes and has been here since 8:30 this morning. Reggie's Bike Shop, Wersell's Bike Shop all donated bikes. Pizza Cat is donating pizza every hour on the hour for our volunteers. Get Air trampoline park donated water for our volunteers, Wixey's brought donuts for our volunteers. We've had a lot of folks volunteer to come out because they want to bless the community," Ms. Llanas said.
Ms. Llanas added that some local residents attended to receive bike repairs which varied from brakes, cables, tires, and much more.
"Here at the mission, we believe that bicycles are not just recreation but means for transportation for a job. It's really important and the need is here as folks have been lining up since 9 this morning," she said.
The bike repair and giveaway is among several programs the mission provides.
"Every Saturday we're open to the community for free clothing and throughout the week we have our mission mall store, where folks can come and get items for garage sale prices to set up their households," Ms. Llanas said. "We carry everything from bicycles, clothes, and furniture. We give bicycles away every day but with the pandemic, we haven't been able to do that."
First Published May 22, 2021, 3:33pm