Oxford community comes together to get used bikes to those in need

This holiday season might just be a little merrier for 14 new bicycle owners thanks to giveaway organized by a local business owner.

Vilppu Anttila, an Oxford resident, and owner of Vilppu’s Bike Repairs, decided to set aside 10 adult-sized bikes and four children’s bikes this Christmas for those in need.

A life-long Oxford community member, Anttila arrived from Finland, where his father moved to take a job in the area. Anttila attended both Talawanda High School and Miami University and graduated in 2017 with degrees in engineering physics and mechanical engineering.

Shortly after college, he started Vilppu’s Bike Repairs during the COVID-19 pandemic and felt it was a good way to make money, put his engineering degree to use, and connect with the community.

“We love the Oxford community, we love being involved,” Anttila said. “We have this big family mentality of ... if my 9-5 allows me to meet people in the local community and serve them and actually be a blessing and offer them something of value, that just feels like a win.”

The used bike giveaway is the second year in a row Vilppu is donating during the holiday season. Last year, it was inspired by one of Anttila’s biking mentors, Bob Feldman, a former Miami visiting professor whose passion and advocacy for biking earned him the nickname “Biker Bob.”

After Feldman retired, he donated his bike tools to Vilppu in support of his shop. Last Christmas, Feldman donated $500 to Vilppu alongside a message: “Do with this what you think is best.”

“I started looking around, and I was like, I’ve got some, inexpensive bikes here that I bet some families in Oxford would be glad to be a part of this,” Vilppu said. “And so last year, I was able to give away $500 in bikes because of the donation.”

Vilppu was inspired to do the same this year after noticing he had some extra bikes in his storage that would be better off given to others.

This year’s giveaway was announced via Vilppu’s Facebook, which was met with a positive response, including two community members who offered bikes of their own.

Dennis Dudley, an Oxford community member since 1992, said he saw Vilppu’s post on Facebook and realized he had a bike his son had outgrown.

“Vilppu does it out of a sense of mission and Christian commitment, and so I’m willing to contribute to that and aid in that vision and mission,” Dudley said.

Lucy Raabe, who has lived in the area for 17 years, also saw the post and said she remembered Vilppu from their time together at Talawanda High School.

“For a kid to be able to have that outside activity and be encouraged to ride a bike one day, is a great milestone,” Raabe said. “There are so many good things that come from having a bike and if we can encourage kids at an early stage, I think it’s a wonderful thing,”

Vilppu said he admired the community’s response.

“It’s amazing how often people will just donate, so they can give it a new home,” Vilppu said. “I would say at least every other month, someone will reach out and say hey, here’s a bike that you can just have or find a good home for it.”

As of Dec. 21, Vilppu said about half the bikes had been claimed. Vilppu said he was in contact with the Family Resource Center in Oxford to clear out the rest.

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