905-835-1186 211 Elgin St, Port Colborne, ON L3K 3K4


Bikes find home in Blue Bears' den

Oct 23, 2020
Students loaded 46 bikes — set to be donated to people in Cuba

Many hands make light work.

It’s a theory Aubrey Foley is ready to put to the test.

The Port Colborne retiree, well known in the community for repairing bicycles to give to less-fortunate families both locally and abroad, is ready to hand over the reins of his beloved initiative. But not to just anyone.

Foley has decided to leave the project in the capable hands — many hands — of local Blue Bears.

Beginning in September, Port Colborne High School students will be the ones making repairs to the donated bikes, which will then be shipped to adults and children in Cuba or given to families in need within the lakeside city.

“Doing what I’m doing alone, I have limited capacity,” said Foley, who spends most days fixing up bikes in his home workshop.

In hopes of seeing more bikes reach those who need them, Foley, a former Blue Bear himself, approached Port High about getting involved with the project.

Principal Ann Kennerly “jumped in immediately,” he said, and talks began of how to include the initiative in the curriculum.

The high school has a good relationship with the community and proper onsite shop courses to handle the logistics of the project, Foley, 70, said.

“They have the ability and the background to make it happen.”

He plans to help co-ordinate the project, dubbed Bears4Bikes, and will be sitting down with school staff over the next few weeks to hammer out details and create a guideline for its operation.

Foley is hopeful Port High’s efforts will motivate other schools across Ontario and beyond to do the same, ensuring used bikes once destined for landfills are instead made accessible to all who need them.

Students got a sneak peek Tuesday of what they’ll be up to in the fall, helping to load 46 bikes that were set to be transported to Cuba.

“Staff and students are very supportive and excited about this,” Kennerly said of the project, for which the school is already housing 63 bikes.

“They’ll clean them up and make sure they’re working properly,” transportation teacher Mike Ferrelli said.

“It’s a learning experience,” he said, adding students will not only develop their mechanical skills, but also learn about giving to those who are less fortunate.

“It’s about teamwork and giving back to the community both locally and globally,” Kennerly said, adding the school will also need support from the community for the initiative to be a continued success.

“We want to hear from people who want to contribute, whether with expertise, storage, bike donations or parts.”

Bicycle donations will still be accepted at Foley’s home, 255 Knoll St., as well as at the Elgin St. school.