As the bikes stacked up at the roadside drop-off point at Trinity Western University in Langley Saturday afternoon, Mary Tanielian, the manager for settlement integration services at the Langley Community Services Society (LCSS) was urging people to contribute their used-but-in-good-condition cycles to the third annual “Wheels 4 refugees” campaign.
“They (unused bikes) don’t want to sit in your garages any more,” Tanielian said.
Just over an hour after the collection point opened, dozens and dozens of bikes in all sizes were neatly lined up and more were arriving.
Last year, the campaign launched by four Langley brothers collected over 200 bicycles for distribution by LCSS.
That was double the amount donated during their successful first campaign in December 2015, when more than 100 bikes were collected and distributed.
After learning about the Syrian refugee crisis in school, brothers Ty, Van, Kade and Wes, 7, Dayton created the Wheels 4 Refugees campaign to collect gently used bikes and scooters for newly arriving Syrian families in B.C.
“Our teachers taught us a lot about refugees and how they were taken from their homes and were not allowed to bring a lot of stuff,” Ty said.
“Something that we really like to do is scooter riding and biking, so we thought, ‘we have some bikes; we can give them away.’”
“We like to ride our bikes and I think all kids should ride bikes because it is fun,” Wes said.
This year, the brothers partnered with LCSS, TWU and Velocity Cycles in Walnut Grove to host a donation drive for bikes and scooters in working condition.
Velocity Cycles has agreed to do light maintenance on the donated bikes.
Anticipating another increase in donations, the society is planning to distribute some of the bikes to homeless people.
Tanielian said LCSS keeps an ongoing list of refugees in Langley and other communities who could use a mechanically reliable cycle.
Anyone who couldn’t make the Saturday drop-off is encouraged to take the bikes to LCSS at 5339-207 St. during normal business hours.
Donors can also drop off “slightly used clothes” for refugees at LCSS, Tanielian said, and cash “is always appreciated.”
LCSS was originally called Langley Family Life Services when it began operating in 1971, with 25 volunteers and eight board members working in the heart of Langley City.
After an arson fire destroyed the buildings in 2005, a new facility was built on the site of the fire, which re-opened in 2007 renamed Langley Community Services Society.
In one year, LCSS provided 2,000 people with nearly 20,000 hours of free programs and counselling services, including free addiction counselling , family therapy and assistance for newcomers to Canada