Giving Back: Getting by with a little help from the elves

January 3rd, 2016 by Team OAM NOW / Athletic Mentors
By Jim Allan, Team OAM Now Cyclist
line up at startA December holiday ritual for members and friends of the OAM NOW/ATHLETIC MENTORS Team is the annual Elves and More Bicycle Build. The Elves and More West Michigan organization raises funds to purchase bicycles that are assembled by volunteers and then distributed into an undisclosed neighborhood to boys and girls. Their involvement and record is impressive as described in the background information:
“In the last eleven years, Elves & More- West Michigan has provided 11,800 new bikes and helmets and 3,300 treasure bags of toys and needed items to all the children in the ten neighborhoods of Grand Rapids.  With the financial help of many generous people and companies and the continuous efforts of our volunteers, we expect another amazing year.”
pic from alanAfter dressing for the task in festive Christmas caps and capturing the obligatory pre-event photo, the team went right to work assembling the bicycles. A nice group attended the event including: Leonard Van Drunen, Pete Chadwick, Steve Schousen, Jim Allan, Dan Gauthier, Roxane Kippen, Danielle Nye, Mike Hoogerland, Greg Neagos, Paul and Steve Buccella, Jim Fottis, Dave Newton, Alan and Mari-Megan Moore.There is usually a re-training period for the returning alumni as well as tips for the newbies and, after a little startup balancing of assignments, the work table and surrounding work stands become a whirlwind of activity. It doesn’t matter what your skillset is coming into this event, everyone leaves with an appreciation for all aspects of bicycle construction.
building bikes 1 croppedThe whole process is dependent upon on-the-job training and, as such, a few bikes are returned until all the requirements are met.
It is always gratifying to see Steve Buccella’s father Paul, who is approaching 95 years old and is now in his second year of helping us, happily pitching in to help unpack the bicycles and prepare them for assembly.
Our method of counting the completed bicycles included a flaw, so we have to estimate that in a (90) minute period our team assembled in excess of (120) bicycles. The total output of all teams was in excess of (1100) bicycles.
DCIM123GOPROAnd this event is not all work and no play, since we always follow with a conversational ride to Rockford for lunch and then further up the White Pine Trail. Unfortunately, we were met again by rain, so this year we were more attentive and turned around before reaching the 25 mile point.
finished bikes 2All in all, it’s an outstanding way to spend a Saturday with great team mates to benefit an outstanding cause and have a lot of fun while connecting with community.
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