Recycle Your Bicycle: Phoenix, AZ
“Recycle Your Bicycle” was started as a project more than 10 years ago by the Arizona Association for Foster and Adoptive Parents. For many adults, one of their fondest memories of childhood is receiving their very first bicycle. Given the stark reality of more than 14,000 children in Arizona’s foster care system, this project aims to bring a smile to every foster child by giving them their first bike and initiate them into the joy of riding.
Members of the Sri Sathya Sai Baba Centers of Phoenix and Mesa in Arizona have participated in this project every year since 2017. About 15 Sai volunteers spent their weekends in October and November to repair, refurbish and clean used bicycles and prepare them to be presented to foster children in time for Christmas. Young Sai volunteers especially enjoyed this unique project as they not only had an opportunity to serve but also learned how to fix and take care of their own bicycles.
“Recycle Your Bicycle” is a very well-organized event. Old bicycles are transported to the site, power-washed and then sorted based on size, type and scale of repair and refurbishment. Once the bicycles have been restored, they are sent to the final station to be cleaned, polished and made to look brand new. Then, they are delivered around the state to events planned for adoptive parents and foster children.
In 2020, due to the COVID pandemic, the organizers bought 1,000 new bicycles, and held a single-day volunteer event on a Saturday in early December. Four Sai volunteers wore masks, practiced social distancing, and ensured they sanitized at various stations at the outdoor event. Partially-assembled bicycles were placed in designated open spots for each volunteer to assemble them. The volunteers then welcomed the foster children and their families and presented them with their new bicycles. One of the young adults expressed, "It was really great being a part of a team that was working to help foster kids experience an unforgettable moment in their life. Seeing each child’s delight upon receiving their new bicycle, many for the first time in their lives, brought everyone a heartwarming sense of belonging to a community of love and generosity. I was also able to learn valuable life skills like teamwork, leadership and some advanced bicycle repair too. It was one of the best experiences of my life!"