In a world overtaken by electronic devices, children of today share fewer and fewer similarities with those of the past.
That said, there is still one thing that shows up at the top of kids’ Christmas and birthday lists in 2018 just as it did in 1918: a bike.
This past Saturday, the Burbank Assn. of Realtors Community Service Foundation teamed up with Bike Angels, which, since 2009, has collected, cleaned, repaired and restored used bicycles to look like new, and has given them to local children whose families are not in a financial position to fulfill their wish for a bike.
Having established the parking lot of their West Magnolia Boulevard headquarters as a drop-off area, the Realtors were joined by community volunteers and city of Burbank employees as 117 bikes were donated during the organization’s fifth annual bike drive.
“A bike is just about the most important thing a kid can get,” said Realtor Alisa Cunningham. “When I was a kid, having a bike gave me the freedom to explore my neighborhood. That is still the same with kids today.”
Elaine Pease, senior license and code services inspector for the city of Burbank and who established the Bike Angels program, said that through the group’s longstanding partnership with the Burbank Corps of the Salvation Army, the Boys & Girls Club of Burbank and Greater East Valley and the Burbank Family Service Agency, its members were able to provide more than 150 refurbished bikes this past Christmas.
As a steady stream of bike donors rolled their offerings up to be accepted this past Saturday, Ana Connell, of the Burbank Education Foundation, kept a running inventory of the intake as Courtney Korb, president of the Burbank Assn. of Realtors, was joined by the organization’s President-elect Karol Kochova, past Presidents Harry Timuryan and Caleb Gonzalez, and Executive Director Cheritta Smith to thank people for their donations.
As Pease watched people, including Lisa Matzner Eaton of the Orange Coast Title Co. and her daughter, Reese, make their donations, she reflected on a few of the stories, both poignant and touching, that the bike program has provided her with over the years.
“Since we began this program, I’ve always found the stories of the bikes themselves to be as fascinating as the children we give them to — where they came from and where they go,” Pease said.
“I remember one year we had twin girls who were about 8 or 9 on our list, and we had just restored two identical bikes that were perfect for them,” she added.
Pease also recalled one special donated bike that had belonged to a little boy who lost his life in the Northridge earthquake.
“His parents had held on to it for all these years for sentimental reasons and had finally gotten to a point they felt it was time to let it go so it could be shared with another child,” she said. It’s just amazing the stories we have seen over the years.”
The reason the Burbank Realtors do this annual bike drive right after Christmas is because so many children receive new bikes and are ready to donate their old ones.
However, Korb pointed out that it is not only during the days before or following Christmas that donations can be made.
“This is an ongoing program that is active all year long,” Korb said. “People can donate their old bikes at any time, and there is always a need for people to help in repairing and restoring them.”
To donate a bike, call (818) 238-3900 or drop it off any weekday at the Burbank Recycle Center located at 500 S. Flower St.