Group works to rehab bikes for kids in foster care

Jamie Beringer and Dave Lodder are hoping people cleaning out their garage will think twice before junking their old bicycles.

Beringer, of West Chester Twp., and Lodder, of Hamilton, recently founded Bicycle Recycle, a fund dedicated to collecting broken, unwanted or unused bikes for the purpose of fixing them up for children in foster care.

Lodder became known locally because of a care-packages-for-soldiers initiative he organized, as well as homeless relief efforts.

“People know I’m always looking for donations. Offer me things and eventually I find someone who can use it,” he said.

A donation of two bicycles by a friend last Christmas turned into several more donations and a call to a friend working as a Butler County deputy to see if he had contact with kids in need.

“He gave me a (deputy’s) name at Butler County Children Services,” Lodder said. “She was thrilled and told me what these kids go through and how much a bike would mean to them. It broke my heart to hear her stories, so I got on Facebook and reached out to my friends for used bikes.”

The effort paid off in a donation of more than 25 more bikes.

“I initially thought of it as a one-time thing and then, after getting all the bikes I could repaired and cleaned up for Christmas presents, I knew I wanted to do this permanently,” he said.

Beringer, who previously helped Lodder’s care-package efforts, offered to host a bicycle-donation drive in her neighborhood, where many families were cleaning out their garages and getting rid of old bicycles.

“We received 16 bikes that day and while we were sitting and receiving these bikes we started to discuss more about what was going on and how he had been receiving cash donations,” she said.

Beringer established Bicycle Recycle as a fund last month via Community Foundation of West Chester/Liberty and works to publicize the organization’s name and mission.

“A lot of people have unused bicycles laying around the garage that their kids have outgrown or just aren’t used,” Lodder said. “We try to get the word out we’ll put those bikes to good use.”

If the bicycles aren’t in good shape, Lodder strips them for parts.

“I work on them almost every morning of the week to stay ahead, going over everything on them making sure they’re in good working order, replacing worn tires and new inner tubes, for about 20 to 90 minutes a bike, and I love it,” he said.

The effort has grown so rapidly that Bicycle Recycle is covering the cost of the necessary parts and tools until fund donations increase.

Bicycle Recycle also collects helmets, scooters, tricycles, skateboards and any other wheel-based recreational vehicles.

For a list of drop-off locations or to learn how to donate, write to bicyclerecycle@gmail.com or visit the Facebook page at www.tinyurl.com/bicyclerecycle. To make a charitable cash donation online, go to www.wclfoundation.com/donate.

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