Bike Elf partners with Wesley House

Published on January 16, 2017 – Ken Lay, The Knoxville Focus

(Knoxville) Some area elementary and middle school students now have chances to earn bicycles thanks to anew partnership between the Wesley House and Bike Elf.

The association between the two entities was launched Tuesday afternoon at the Wesley House, which serves the Lonsdale and Mechanicsville Communities.

The partnership is part of Bike Elf’s Read, Write and Ride with Bike Elf. Under the agreement with Wesley House, each student in the Children’s After-School Recreational Support (CARES) Program will get a chance to earn a bicycle, but getting a bike won’t be easy.

A student in Grades K-8 will earn a bicycle if he or she achieves first honors on each of two report cards during the spring semester. In order to achieve that status, the student must make all A’s and E’s during both grading periods.

“We wanted to find ways to honor our participant children and create [a] motivating educational program and incentivize learning,” said Anderson Olds, the Wesley House’s program director. “First honors is all A’s and E’s and that’s not easy. This is a way to celebrate our children and we really wanted to do this.

“Second honors certainly isn’t bad but we really wanted to show our children that if you want something, you have to go out and get it.”

Bike Elf will return to Wesley House to award the bicycles in June following the completion of the 2016-17 school year.

Bike Elf has its roots in Blount County and has a similar partnership with Boys and Girls Club there. It was founded in 2015 with the goal of giving children the chance to earn bicycles.

The 501-3C non-profit organization’s slogan is “You donate ‘em. We fix ‘em, Kids earn ‘em.”

The organization reconditions gently used bicycles.

“We started two years and five days ago, and we’ve been working with the Boys and Girls Club of Blount County,” said Bike Elf Secretary Leigh P. Wilson. “This partnership was the perfect fit.”

The organization creates partnership and agrees to provide bicycles but Bike Elf doesn’t set earning standards. “We leave the standards up to our partners and [Wesley House] is taking no prisoners,” Wilson said. “They want their kids to achieve at the highest level.”

The Wesley House partnership is the first of three big events for Bike Elf. The organization will host a pair of Bike Drives at the Boys and Girls Club in Maryville on Feb. 4 and Feb. 18.

Both drives are from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. and all donations are tax deductible.

“We take gently used bikes and we take cash donations,” Wilson said. “We can’t have rust and we don’t take new bicycles.

“We use cash donations to by seats, tubes and tires. If these kids work this hard to earn the bikes, then we want to make it worth their time and effort.”

In two years, Bike Elf has donated more than 600 bicycles.