Herndon students refurbish donated bikes for needy children

By Holly Hobbs
Fairfax County Times
Thursday, November 26, 2009

Used bicycles of all types fill a trailer behind Herndon Middle School. The donations look like waste. But in weeks to come, they will be spruced up, repaired and treasured by local children.

"I'm just happy to see some kids smile," said eighth-grader Marquise Hogan, 14.

He is one of about 20 Herndon Middle students who stay after school once a week to help refurbish donated bikes for children who cannot afford them.

Although Marquise isn't sure who'll eventually own the bikes he repairs, he is confident they'll be in good hands.

"Everybody looks like a good kid to me," he said.

Under the direction of three Herndon Middle teachers, the students are fixing 13 bicycles, which will be donated to 10 children participating in the Neighborhood Resource Center, which has partnered with Herndon and Fairfax County to provide aid to residents who are facing social or physical challenges.

The center submits a list that includes the names and ages of children who need bikes. The students then know what size and style bikes they need to repair.

In its third year, the Herndon Middle School Bike Shop has repaired and donated about 30 bicycles. Many bikes are completed before the holiday season.

The bicycles are donated from across the county, said teacher Robert Dim, who helps oversee the shop.

"The kids have been passing out fliers," Dim said. "It seems like finding used bikes isn't hard to do once the word gets out. We can't fix every bike that comes in, but we can salvage the parts."

Along with educating students the benefits of giving back to their community, the program teaches them basic bike repairs.

"We like to salvage as much as possible while teaching the kids about their bikes," said teacher Cass Hersh, pointing to stacks of bike parts that had been divided into piles. "I'll feel successful if we can get maybe 40 bikes turned around this year."

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