Successful used bike sale benefits refugee program

A followup to my Friday column:

Pedal Power bike shop’s sale Saturday to benefit Shifting Gears didn’t last long. All 200 used bikes were sold well before noon.

“We were able to put money into an account to keep the program going and still write Kentucky Refugee Ministries a check for $3,000, which will provide for two households until self-sufficiency,” said Brad Flowers, who started Shifting Gears.

Shifting Gears provides restored, used bikes to newly arrived foreign refugees to give them some basic transportation. The bikes come from donations and trade-ins taken by Pedal Power.

Kentucky Refugee Ministries works with the U.S. State Department to resettle officially designated refugees who legally immigrate to Kentucky. It tries to provide them with furniture and other necessities until they can get settled and find work.

Response to Shifting Gears has been so strong that Pedal Power had many more bikes than it could restore, and it needed to clear out about 200 to free up space and raise money for spare parts.

Restoration labor is donated by Pedal Power employees and volunteers from the local cycling community. Last year, about 80 bikes were donated to refugees, with some children’s bikes going to The Nest, a social service agency on North Limestone.

The extra adult bikes were sold for $25, $50 or $75 each, and spare parts were sold for $1 each, “whether it was a wheel or a cable,” Flowers said.

“There was one guy that bought two bikes and 10 or so parts to fix up for people in his neighborhood who didn’t have bikes,” he said. “There were several international students from UK.”

A half-dozen volunteers from the bicycle group LexRides helped work the sale.

“As the number of (refugee) arrivals increases (from an average of 100 a year recently to about 200 a year currently) and as funding stays flat it is creative partnerships like this that will allow them to continue to provide basic services for these folks as they become oriented,” Flowers said.

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