Bike builders brighten kids’ Christmas

Waste Connections’ effort benefits needy

By Scott Hewitt, Columbian social issues & neighborhoods reporter

Published:

 
photoRicardo Lopez-DeJesus, 2, helps his mom, Leah DeJesus, and dad, Ricardo Lopez, put a bike together at Waste Connections on Thursday.

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What child wouldn’t be happy as can be to wake up on Christmas morning and find a new bicycle under the tree?

No child Scott Campbell knows.

Campbell (no relation to Columbian Publisher Scott Campbell) is the spokesman for the Brush Prairie-based western regional office of Waste Connections, a national company based in Folsom, Calif. Waste Connections performs garbage and recycling collection all over Clark County. The corporate office’s “Christmas Promise” policy encourages local employees to provide bikes for needy children.

One day last year, Waste Connections employees in Clark County volunteered after work to assemble bikes to donate to local charities. They got 110 done in about two hours, Campbell said. As things got under way at the second annual bike-building event Thursday, the target was 250 bikes. About 60 volunteers were expected to turn up, Campbell said, including spouses, children and business partners. Pizza and cookies

helped.

So did a spirit of charity.

“I’ve got three kids and three grandkids,” said Dean Large, sales manager at Waste Connections, as he assembled a little girl’s bike. “It’s a tough economy now, and we’re fortunate to have jobs. We might as well help out.”

“For me, it’s showing my girls the right thing to do,” said Kevin Miracle, who was building a big-kid bike with his daughters, Haley, 14, and Chelsea, 11. Miracle said he grew up in the country near Estacada, Ore., and never had an opportunity to go volunteer like this. “All we had was cows,” he said.

The bikes were purchased via donations provided by employees, business partners and others, Campbell said. Last year, as the holiday season approached, there was $8,500 in that donation fund; this year, he was chagrined to discover the fund down by more than half. Waste Connections went knocking on doors, Campbell said, and was pleased to get a great response.

The boxed, unassembled bike kits, manufactured by Huffy and Kent, were supplied at a deep discount by Walmart on Highway 99, Campbell said. Instructions were included, which was fortunate, since installing and tightening the cable hand brakes had some guys scratching their heads. “They never had this fancy stuff when I had a bike,” one was overheard muttering.

The bicycles will be donated to the “Santa’s Posse” toy drive organized by the Clark County Sheriff’s Department; children being served by the state Division of Children and Family Services, and various local neighborhood associations, Campbell said.

Scott Hewitt: 360-735-4525; http://www.twitter.com/col_nonprofits;scott.hewitt@columbian.com.