Published on June 8, 2017 – Editorial Staff, The Daily Times
Who hasn’t thought about doing something to make a difference but let the impulse slip away? Rejoice! Opportunity awaits on Saturday. Just think of it as Christmas in June.
This get-’er-done act of kindness was inspired by Christmas. The year was 2014. The place was the site of an Angel Tree in Maryville. Dewayne Wilson noticed that the Angel cards left on the tree were from kids wishing for bicycles. The Townsend man knew exactly why a kid would want a bike. As a youngster in Texas his bicycle had been his portal to the world. He rode the streets, the roads, the trails. It’s how he got around to see his friends.
Wilson had visions of refurbished bikes dancing in his head. The next thing he knew his wife Leigh was hooked on his holiday inspiration. By early January the couple found themselves driving home with three used bikes in the bed of their truck and a dream replacing those visions. By the time they got home the dream became was a plan. They called it Bike Elf.
Today the husband and wife team that founded the nonprofit Bike Elf has taken in more than 800 gently used bicycles to refurbish and gift to children and young adults — pay attention here, it’s important — who earn them.
Bike Elf works with the Boys and Girls Club of Blount County and recently established a partnership with the Boys and Girls Club of the Smoky Mountains in Sevierville. Children who come to these facilities earn bikes with good grades, perfect attendance, reading advancement and good behavior. Add another partnership: Wesley House Community Center in the Lonsdale Community in Knoxville.
Ever see the smile on a kid’s face when presented with a bike and when riding it for the first time? Consider yourself hooked. You don’t have to start a nonprofit to do your part. As one might imagine, it takes some gifting, some elbow grease and some money to make this work.
Bike Elf’s motto is: “You donate ’em. We fix ’em. Kids earn ’em.” Bike Elf has plenty of kids anxious to earn a bike, and has folks who can clean and repair them. Bike Elf needs the bikes. That’s where Saturday comes up and you come in.
Bike Elf will be at the Boys and Girls Club of Blount County (old Fort Craig Elementary) from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, June 10, to accept donations of gently used bicycles. When turned over to their new owners, the two-wheelers will be shiny and sharp-looking.
Be advised (jingle, jingle) donations are tax deductible. Christmas spirit in June? Yep, it’s a cool thing. Keep the Bike Elf rolling.