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Burbank Bike Angels keep the wheels of charity rolling

Burbank Bike Angels set to donate bicycles to children in need

More than 120 bicycles will be donated to local children in need, thanks to a group of volunteers and city employees known as the Burbank Bike Angels.

(Roger Wilson / Burbank Leader)

More than 120 bicycles set to go to needy children in the area lined the steps of Burbank City Hall Monday morning. They were collected and, in some cases, refurbished by a group of local volunteers and city employees known as the Burbank Bike Angels and later delivered to local nonprofits.

The volunteers begin cleaning up and repairing the bikes in the fall and requests with details on the age, height and gender of children who hope to receive them start coming in around Thanksgiving, said Elaine Pease, who started the program seven years ago and continues to run it.

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. Each bike comes with a helmet.

“I’m excited,” Jeremy Baker, a lieutenant at the Salvation Army Burbank Corps, said in front of City Hall. “We’ll be even more excited on Thursday when we get to see the kids receive the bikes.”

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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.

Next month, the Burbank Assn. of Realtors will host a bike drive from 8 to 11 a.m. Jan. 9 in the parking lot at 2006 W. Magnolia Blvd. Organizers will also collect “e-waste” to be recycled for the benefit of Burbank schools. Coffee and doughnuts will be provided.

“You can clean out your garage after Christmas,” said Alisa Cunningham, the association’s president.

Rick Baza, who along with his 10-year-old daughter Katie has been helping refurbish bikes as part of the program for five years, said that as a former competitive bike racer and mechanic, he’s got “all the skills” to fix even some of the most challenging bikes.

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“Me, on the other hand,” Katie said, “I’m not a real good mechanic.”

She pumps tires, attacks rust spots with steal wool, touches up paint jobs and helps prioritize which bikes need the most care, her father said.

“Some are in terrible condition,” Katie added.

The goal is to make each of the bikes look new.

Pease said volunteers like the Bazas put in hundreds of hours, “like Santa’s workshop guys,” to ready the bikes for the holidays.

Not all of the requests for bikes are in, Pease said, so she’s not sure how many will be distributed this year. The organization averages about 200 bikes a year.

Janet Diel, president of Burbank Coordinating Council, said her group received 150 requests for bikes, not all of which are likely to come from the Bike Angels. They’re also seeking donations from the community.

Time is running short.

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“It’s getting near the deadline for Santa,” Pease said.

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Chad Garland, chad.garland@latimes.com

Twitter: @chadgarland


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