Lil Hoots Consignment Boutique and Joker Bike Repair in Strathmore are teaming up for the fourth year to refurbish and give away bicycles to the community.

The idea was initially started by Dustin and Sarah Richards, who operate Drivers Collision 2014, as a way to help out folks in Strathmore and area who may not be able to afford new bikes. 

“Dustin and Sarah just had this desire to give back to the community, so they fixed up bikes and gave them away for free, and so we did it with them for the first few years,” said Denise Geremia, owner of Lil Hoots. “I think we gave away 10 bikes a week throughout the months of April, May, and a little bit of June. Then they would stop so that they could enjoy their summers.”

This year, the original goal was to launch the initiative again at the start of May, but the Richards were unable to participate. Instead, Geremia reached out to Joker Bike Repair in Carseland.

She explained what the project would look like and what kind of an opportunity it would be to both do some good for the community, as well as to raise some awareness for the business. 

“I said to them this is a huge ask because it was going to be their money and time, but it could be great advertising … they took a little bit to think about it and then ultimately agreed and started posting that they were willing to go and pick up bikes,” said Geremia. “They quickly regretted that decision because they were driving around all over the place picking up bikes from Chestermere to Arrowwood. I told them no more of that and people could drop off their bikes here at my store.”

Bikes are being collected in any size, from young child to adult, though because they are being refurbished and distributed for free, nothing will be measured or held for individuals. 

Geremia said she is operating off a sort of trust system, that somebody who needs one will simply be able to drop in and pick up a bike.

“What we are also finding, is that people are passing it on and paying it forward, so we are finding that a lot of people are donating funds or buying lunch for the person behind them in a drive through because of the free bike,” she added. “It has been amazing, and people this year are bringing back some of the bikes that we fixed up the last couple of years, swapping them for bigger bikes. They have kept them in really good condition so they can give away the smaller bike to somebody else.”

Both bicycle and monetary donations are being accepted at Lil Hoots in Strathmore. All of the money is going straight to Joker Bike Repair for volunteering their time and effort to get all the donated bikes repaired and ready to give away. 

The program will operate at least until the end of May, and Geremia hopes to have it going into June. Following that, it will begin again next spring.

By John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Published on May 25, 2023

This item reprinted with permission from   Strathmore Times   Strathmore, Alberta

Comments are Welcome - Use the 'Join the Discussion' above any replies, or 'TheRegional / Chat' below replies. Both links take you to the same place. You will be asked to become a registered user if you are not one already - Posts are moderated