Published on January 18, 2017 – Ruth White, South-Knox Shopper News
(Knoxville) Christmas has come and gone, but some elves are still in Knoxville surprising students.
The Bike Elf organization volunteers stopped by Wesley House last week and announced their new initiative, Read, Write and Ride with Bike Elf.
The program will challenge the students of Wesley house Community Center’s after school program to earn a bicycle during the spring term at school.
The challenge was given by Wesley house director Anderson Olds: All students in the program who earn first honors (all As and Es) in school on the next two report cards will receive a bicycle from Bike Elf. Olds said that two Wesley house goals for 2017 were 1) to find ways to honor their participant children by celebrating them and their successes, and 2) to create motivating educational programs and incentivize learning.
Bike Elf co-founders contacted Olds in October 2016 with an interest in partnering with Wesley House. Dewayne believes in students earning the bicycles. Students meeting the goal will be awarded a bicycle, helmet and bike lock in June.
The bicycles are not new, but after the elf volunteers are done refurbishing them it is hard to tell that they were ever ridden by anyone else. The volunteer team cleans the bike, repaints them when necessary, adds new tires, seats and other repairs.
During a recent assembly, students stepped up, were measured and signed their name on several posters indicating the size bicycle needed when they meet the goal. Over the next four months, Wesley House and Bike Elf have activities planned to remind the kids of their goal and keep them motivated to achieve earning a bicycle.
Bike Elf is in its second year of giving bicycles to children and began after the Wilsons and their friends had dinner together before Christmas. Christi Fightmaster, on the board off the Salvation Army in Maryville, shared with the Wilsons how children left on the Angel Tree were usually ones who had requested bicycles for Christmas. The Wilsons decided to collect enough bicycles to give 100 away for Christmas 2015, but after much discussion the delivery date was moved to June for the first giveaway as a way to motivate students in school. In the first year they received over 200 bike donations.
They will be holding a bike drive at the Boys & Girls Club of Maryville at 520 S. Washington St. from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 4 and Saturday, Feb. 18 for anyone interested in donating a used bicycle or to make monetary donations (to purchase seats, tires, tubes, etc. to repair the bicycles). Bike Elf’s motto is “you donate ‘em. We fix ‘em. Kids earn ‘em.”