WESTFIELD, NJ — On Saturday, Oct. 9, The Rotary Club of Westfield collected used bicycles to send to Honduras. Bicycle collection Chairperson Warren Rorden said he was very pleased with the results. He said the Rotary Club collected 104 used bikes and 40 brand-new Schwinn bikes, along with $1,800 in donations. The donations are important to help pay the shipping costs.
The Rotary Club started collecting bikes in 1997, with D. Michael Hart as club president and Rorden as the bicycle collection project chairperson. In the past 24 years, the club has collected 2,800 bikes, which have improved the lives of 2,800 families in developing nations. The club works with an organization called Pedals for Progress, which collects the bikes and ships them. Americans purchase 50 million bicycles per year but throw 20 million perfectly good bikes into landfills. The purpose of this program is to send the used bicycles to the places where they will do the most good. In developing nations, many people need to walk everywhere — to fetch water or firewood, bring produce to market or travel to their jobs. If children need to walk 5 miles to school, they just do not go. If a tradesman has a bicycle, they can carry their tools with them and be more productive. Therefore, a bike can make a huge difference in a person’s life. Bicycles do not create air pollution and do create jobs, because a village with bicycles will also need a bike repair shop.
Off-road bicycles are sent to countries that do not have paved roads. Road bikes are sent to countries with paved roads. Children’s bikes are important to help children get to school.
Sewing machines are also collected and shipped. A sewing machine can give a single mother a way to support her family.
The Rotary Club of Westfield is an organization of local businessmen and -women and community leaders who wish to help provide service to the community and to the world. Besides recycling bicycles, the club helps support the homeless veterans living at Lyons VA Medical Center; helps the Afghan refugees at McGuire Air Force Base; helps to feed the food insecure in Westfield and Elizabeth; provides scholarships to high school seniors, grants to local community groups and support to youth service clubs in the schools. The club meets the first and third Tuesdays of each month at noon by Zoom and the second Tuesday of each month for lunch in person. For more information, contact club secretary Hart by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.