Bikes for Kids is a Connecticut based organization that brings smiles to children one bike at a time. Here’s how it works: Volunteers collect, repair and safety test donated used bicycles. The refurbished bicycles along with new helmets are given away to individuals of all ages and needs. Most donated bicycles remain in Connecticut, but some have reached children in other states and countries. More than 1,000 bicycles are given away annually. Requests for bicycles come from individuals, local and state social service organizations, churches, school counselors, non-profits, and many civic minded groups.
Chuck Graeb, founder of Bikes for Kids, discovered retirement offering him the perfect opportunity to fulfill his lifelong wish of providing bicycles to children in need. Growing up in Bronx, NY during the great depression, Chuck himself was a kid “without much”. Specifically, he had a yearning for a used green Columbia bicycle his family could not afford.
When Chuck retired from teaching in 1989 he collected gently used bicycles from friends and neighbors in Old Lyme, CT. Volunteers helped with repairs, pick-ups and deliveries while others would offer up their garage or basement for storage. Chuck began to distribute bikes to local young people in need. Before he knew it, almost 1,000 bicycles had been distributed in a little over a year.
The “rotten feeling” of never owning a bike of his own inspired Chuck to change lives one bike at a time—delivering more than 12,000 bicycles in his lifetime.
David Fowler, a committed volunteer, was approached by the Graeb family in 2009 after Chuck’s passing. They asked him to continue the foundations’ charitable work. With the same passion of its founder, Dave and dedicated volunteers continue to grow the organization.
In 2011 Bikes for Kids became an official 501(c)(3) non-profit. There is a now a Wheelhouse located in Essex, CT with bike storage and heated workspace for volunteers to refurbish donated bikes.
Today, Bikes for Kids is the largest group in Connecticut giving away bicycles and new helmets to kids and folks in need. So much that BFK has given away over 21,000 bikes to date. That is an average of 1,000 bikes every nine months. Roughly 1,300–1,400 bikes are donated to children in need each year.
The mission at Bikes for Kids is for every child to be able to experience the enjoyment of owning and riding their own bicycle. BFK believes the freedom and friendship that comes from exploring a community by bike is invaluable. Riding a bike is a skill that contributes to a sense of independence and self-esteem while supporting a healthy lifestyle.
As Bikes for Kids has grown, their reach has lengthened as well. Complementing their mission to provide bikes to children in need, BFK is committed to those whose lives would be greatly improved by owning a bike. These bikes are bringing smiles to children one bike at a time.
For more information please visit bikesforkidsct.org