Already 75 bikes sent to Cuba on Sept. 21st
The Blue Bears officially opened their bike den — formerly known as Room 10 — Tuesday and made their very first donation.
Under the watchful, supportive eyes of Aubrey Foley, the Port Colborne man who’s been repairing bikes to send to Cuba from home, Port Colborne High School students showed up early in the morning Tuesday to get to work.
By 9:30 a.m., they had assembled their first bike, a Canadian Tire donated tricycle, which they donated to the day care at Port High.
“Bicycles that are no longer being used for various reasons — whether it’s medical problems or damage — those bicycles we want to return back into our community,” Foley said of the initiative. “We want to have the opportunity to capture those bicycles before they go into landfills.”
The program, which is new this year, will see students working in the bike shop repairing broken and damaged bicycles to be delivered to Niagarans in need, and potentially to people across the country.
“We have needs across Canada — from coast to coast — there are many families that can’t afford bicycles,” Foley said.
The partnership between Foley and Port High was a natural one, said principal Ann Kennerly.
Kennerly said she and Foley are both Port High alumni, and active members within the community. The idea to bring Foley’s Bikes for Cuba program to the school to help people closer to home was met enthusiastically.
Last Thursday Foley, students and staff at Port High helped load a truck with 57 bicycles, medical supplies, bicycle helmets, soap and shampoo along with clean clothing which will be loaded into a sea container heading to Cuba in October.
“This is something that’s going to be integrated into all of the curriculum. So what you’re seeing is the co-op students and the welding teacher — that’s the nuts and bolts,” Kennerly said. “But also in our history and geography classes we’re going to be talking about green ecotourism, we’re going to be talking about the social justice nature of giving a woman in Africa a bike and what that does for the family, or a girl in Cuba so she can get to school, or a man who needs a bike to be able to provide for his family.”
Kennerly and welding teacher Grant Tenden said the program serves the dual purposes of giving back to the community, and preparing students for potential future endeavours.
“Bikes are not only for fun — which of course they are—- but I also understand it’s not just about fun it’s about giving back to the community so that we can improve the conditions of local people and their families and this is just one small way we can do that,” Kennerly said.
Foley was glowing with pride when the three students delivered that first bike to the day care upstairs Tuesday.
“My role will be nothing more than a resource person,” he said. “They’ll take the torch and they’ll run with this.”
Foley said the need for bicycle donations — even if they are broken — is still great, and donations can be dropped off at his shop at 255 Knoll St. in Port Colborne.