Bike Angels deliver bicycles of hope for kids

This post has been corrected, see below for details.

More than 140 new and refurbished bikes were donated to local charities Friday on behalf of a growing team of local volunteers and city employees known as the Burbank Bike Angels.

The team of roughly 60 volunteers has been collecting bikes year round. Since August, they have been dusting them off and fixing them up with new seats, tires, grips or chains.

The bikes will be distributed through the Salvation Army of Burbank Angel Tree program, which provides holiday gifts to local low-income families. They will also be given to kids through the Burbank Temporary Aid Center, Boys and Girls Club and Family Service Agency.

"It's exciting to see kids get their first bicycle ever when we deliver them," said Deputy Fire Marshal and Bike Angels volunteer Jorge Martinez. "What makes it more exciting is all the volunteers showing up to help — everybody takes time out of their busy lives to put together bikes and help us reach our goals."

Throughout the year, the organization accepts new or used bikes in any condition, along with monetary donations, at the Burbank Recycle Center, located at 500 S. Flower St. The group typically spends about $30 refurbishing each used bike, said Ferris Kawar, recycling specialist for the city and a Bike Angels volunteer.

"Some of them need a complete overhaul where they need hours of work, and some of them are in much better shape," Kawar said, adding that the team is always looking for volunteers to help refurbish the bikes.

Since a handful of city employees started the program five years ago — that year they refurbished just six bikes — more than 400 Burbank children have received a new set of wheels during the holidays.

"We hope that this inspires other cities, or other people in other cities, to start the same program because there are so many bikes that are stored in people's garages for umpteen years that never get recycled or used that could be out there making some kids really happy," Kawar said.

[For the record, Dec. 18, 2013: An earlier version of this story misidentified one of the organizations distributing the bikes. The Salvation Army of Burbank Angel Tree program is giving bikes to low-income families, in general.]


Follow Alene Tchekmedyian on Google+ and on Twitter: @atchek.


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