Holiday Bike Drive still great, despite snowstorm

It takes a lot more than a little snow to keep the Holiday Bike Drive down. Despite freezing temperatures and frequent snow squalls the 2008 Holiday Bike Drive continued (almost) as planned. The annual event requires months of coordination; collecting and cleaning 500 bikes, signing up 500 kids through 75 schools and social service agencies, and scheduling 250 volunteers to help the day of the event. So when the storm worsened, ODOT closed Highway 26, and Legacy hospital went on storm protocol, we knew our best laid plans had to change. After 10:30 we started telling people not to come. But we also knew that many were in transit and we had to figure out a way to keep the event rolling. And it did.

The 2008 Holiday Bike Drive snow storm managed to keep some people away because of treacherous road conditions, but more than 175 (70%) volunteers and 175 (35%) children and their families still showed up. We heard stories about volunteers who took two hour bus trips to make it to the event. More than one family took three hours to arrive. The Vancouver School District brought 50 kids down I-5 and had to put chains on their bus to get home safely. Many families and agencies could not make it to the event. We will be in touch with them this week to discuss an alternate plan in January.

Despite travel times and concerning conditions, it was all smiles once they walked through the Holiday Bike Drive doors. Because of the creativity and flexibility of volunteers, staff, and participants the event maintained its magic.

We witnessed thish magic all day long. Volunteers kept on smiling and focusing on the task at hand to make the event special for every child, whether teaching bike safety, fitting helmets, selecting bikes, or wrenching  for the perfect fit. Many stayed until the end, helping us to reload almost 400 bikes back onto the truck and move them to our storage facility – an enormous challenge given the conditions.

A particularly touching moment came when we met a young woman who had been visiting her husband, who was fighting for his life in ICU.  She asked about the Holiday Bike Drive and we told her stories about how we organize this one special day and give 500 bikes to children in need. She asked us if there was any way that we could help her three young children get bikes, given that her family’s holiday plans had been shattered by the violence her husband was enduring. As we helped her select the bikes, her eyes filled with tears. Ours did, too. As we hugged in thanks, I once again thought about how the Holiday Bike Drive is about more than giving a bike to a child. What makes it truly special is the connection we make with each other in the process.

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Hours: 10am-6pm daily (fall/winter)Bike Shop Address: 1700 NE Alberta St, Portland, OR 97211

Phone: 503.287.8786