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Winnipeg’s ‘Cycle of Giving’ initiative yields record number of bikes for local kids in need

According to a posting on the Winnipeg Repair, Education and Cycling Group's website, more than 430 children will receive a bicycle this holiday season.

Image: The WRENCH/Facebook.

Two years ago, in 2015, a veritable army of volunteers came together in Winnipeg during that year’s holiday season, primed and ready for a marathon event that had a single purpose: to build more than 300 bikes for local children in need. Armed with tools, knowledge and more than a few good hearts, that number was met and exceeded, Canadian Cycling Magazine reported, with more than 350 bikes assembled by noon on Dec. 13, 2015.

This year, the 2017 edition of the annual bike-building marathon took place over the weekend, and that number was shattered yet again.

It’s called the Cycle of Giving, an initiative of local not-for-profit cycling group the WRENCH, the Winnipeg Repair, Education and Cycling Group. This year was the seventh such marathon, taking bikes doomed to the landfill and refurbishing them into holiday chariots for needy kids, and for 24 hours straight, Winnipeg’s Valour Community Club was buzzing with it. Brakes were installed, gears tightened, frames scrubbed and polished to a gleaming shine. Starting at noon on Saturday, Dec. 2, the idea was to have those 300 bikes ready to go by noon the following day.

According to a posting on WRENCH’s website, the skill, diligence and care of 2017’s assembled volunteers far exceeded that goal. “Because of your marvelous efforts,” the posting reads, “over 430 children in need will receive a bicycle this holiday season.”

Describing the event to CBC reporters as a “herculean effort,” Patrick Krawec, managing director of the WRENCH, said that the Cycle of Giving was initially conceived as a fundraiser. Once volunteers saw the need in the community, though, the idea was taken further, and the concept of a bike-refurbishing marathon came to life. “These problems we’re facing—the rampant child poverty, the rampant over-consumption—these are complicated problems,” Krawec told the CBC.

“But getting together with your community and thinking about it and doing something about it is the only way we’re going to solve anything.”