The Issue: Unattainable Gifts for Underserved Youth
Bicycles are the most requested gift from kids who cannot afford them, according to TurningWheels For Kids founder Susan Runsvold and anecdotes from social workers. But the gift of a bicycle is out of reach for many of the nearly 22% of California children who live below the poverty line, according to data from Kidsdata.org. By building new bicycles and repairing used bikes, community members can give youth a tangible gift, a source of exercise, and lasting childhood memories.
The Campaign: Building Bikes for Bay Area Youth
All donations to this Grassroots campaign will be used by TurningWheels For Kids to give bicycles to youth to ride around their neighborhoods. For every $85 raised, the organization can provide a bicycle and helmet for one Bay Area child. Anonymous donors will provide up to $7,500 in matching donations.
These bicycles and helmets go to children whose families could not otherwise afford them. They use them to play outside in their neighborhoods, maintain a healthy weight, and get to and from school. The organization builds bikes during monthly events and an annual Big Bike Build in December, which gives bikes to parents at local charities so they can deliver them to their children on Christmas.
TurningWheels For Kids
Susan Runsvold describes Christmas 2003 as the worst of her life. She was visiting her grandchildren to celebrate but could “barely get into the living room because of all the presents.” Once they began opening them, her grandkids—like many families—only cared about opening the next gift. Having grown up in a low-income family, she was dismayed by the extravagance and decided to change things from then on.
Recalling her own childhood and how she used to worry she wouldn’t be able to get any presents at all, Runsvold realized that the best way to help her family adopt a new mindset would be to teach them about the value of giving. As a child, she remembered always wanting a bike but assuming it was out of reach, so she decided to help other children get bikes for Christmas.
In her first year, Runsvold raised $843 from friends and took her grandson to buy bicycles for children from low-income families. From there, interest grew as community members and storeowners flocked to donate. TurningWheels For Kids has donated more than 18,000 bikes through neighborhood bike-repair clinics, bike builds at pediatric centers, and the annual Big Bike Build, during which 1,000 volunteers build bicycles for the holidays and donate them to families through local nonprofit organizations.
"A bike opens a whole new world to" recipients, Runsvold said. One boy explained that his bike gave him a sense of self-reliance because it made getting to school easier. Others ride with their families as outdoor bonding time. Many youth continue with the program for years after they receive their bike, often helping build and repair bicycles at events. Runsvold sees this relationship as a way for people to be a part of a community where "one hand washes the other"—or hands out a helmet and a pair of wheels.
See how Groupon helps you discover local causes and lend a helping hand at the Groupon Grassroots blog.