Bikes for Kids provides a magical experience for deserving families, who are greeted by Santa himself the day the workshop opens its doors to reveal hundreds of gleaming bicycles. With the help of volunteers, bicycles are selected, as well as other donated items like winter hats, toys, helmets and bike locks. Handmade tags hang from many of the handlebars, adding a festive, heartfelt touch.
Originally founded by the Mullenbach Family, Bikes for Kids brings Christmas cheer to all those involved whether they are giving or receiving. Bike Alpharetta, a nonprofit that promotes safe and fun cycling in north Fulton County, recruits dozens of community elves to sprinkle a little magic onto gently used bikes and trikes.
How it All Began
While volunteering at the 2006 North Fulton Community Charities (NFCC) Santa Workshop, the Mullenbach family realized there weren’t enough bicycles to go around. More than 900 families turn to NFCC during the holidays, which inspired the family to give Ole St. Nick a helping hand in fulfilling the wishes of as many good boys and girls as possible.
During their first year, The Mullenbachs collected 65 bikes during the 2007 holiday season. Eventually, churches, organizations, and the community dispatched helpers who filled Santa’s sleigh with a staggering 750 bikes, scooters and trikes! In 2014, Bike Alpharetta popped on the jingle bell shoes and green tights, metaphorically speaking. “Bike Alpharetta is proud to manage this program now for a fourth year, with the incredible support of local bicycle shops, area bicycle mechanics, hundreds of volunteers and the Alpharetta Department of Public Safety,” says Jackie Tyson, founder of Bike Alpharetta, aka Head Elf. Still working through NFCC, Bikes for Kids brings their cleaned and repaired bike donations to the annual Santa’s Workshop.
Bringing the North Pole to Alpharetta
Much preparation takes place in the days leading up to Santa’s Workshop, including a day where 71 elves, or volunteers, work all day putting love back into donated bikes. You can sign up to help out; there’s no better way to spread Christmas cheer besides singing loud for all to hear!
Local businesses and city organizations like the Alpharetta Police Department Bike Patrol Unit, lend a hand on clean up day while serving as collection hubs to make things easier on the big guy. Alpharetta Fire Station 83 sent a fire truck ast year to powerwash and put the sparkle back into all 228 bikes. Nine bike shops provided mechanics and parts that weren’t available at the North Pole. Accessories, including 228 new helmets and 100 locks filled Santa’s big red sack, while four new bikes were presented by Bike Roswell.
True Christmas Spirit
“Today, the Bikes for Kids program is truly a community effort with Alpharetta Fire Stations opening their doors in November to accept gently used bicycles so that the Bike Patrol Unit and members of Bike Alpharetta can retrieve them and fix them up for children in need for Christmas,” says Officer Amanda Clay of the Bike Patrol Unit.
Biking is a significant part of lifestyle and family bonding in Alpharetta; when families receive such a gift, they are given more opportunities to develop strong, family relationships and memories. What an incredible way to celebrate Christmas.
“Bikes for Kids is very special as it makes it possible for families to provide the top-requested gift item for a child at the holidays; a gently-used or new bicycle or tricycle. Our goal is to repurpose 300-400 previously-loved bikes into ride-ready, like-new gifts for the holidays,” says Tyson.
Officer Clay adds, “Bikes for Kids is a great program because it allows the community to come together to act as the ripple in the water that becomes a wave of change in the entire community. It’s definitely the highlight of my year, and I enjoy the opportunity to go around the community collecting bicycles to repair for children in need. The holiday season would not be the same without Bikes for Kids.”
Bike-Tober, the kickoff event, will take place October 4, 6-9 p.m. at Endurance House Atlanta in Alpharetta. Ride, donate, eat and try your luck in the raffle. During November, bring bicycles or tricycles to any fire station in Alpharetta. Follow up at BikeAlpharetta.org, or check out their Facebook page as more info unfolds.