Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Annual Holiday Bike Drive is about much more than free bikes

Posted by on November 30th, 2007 at 10:09 am

CCC's Holiday Bike Drive

A scenes from last year’s event.
(Photos © Jonathan Maus)

On Sunday, December 9th, 519 Portland kids will receive a shiny recycled bicycle, lovingly prepped and polished by an army of volunteers.

But despite the heart-warming smiles of anxious kids ready to pedal their new rigs, handing off the bike is just one part of this very special event.

To pull off their annual Holiday Bike Drive event, the Community Cycling Center (CCC) spends nearly all year organizing with over 65 individual caseworkers (all the kids are referred into the program), schools, and community organizations.

And then there are the volunteers. With one week to go before the event, they’ve already donated 1,538 hours of work.

“It’s important to us to create a magical experience.”
–CCC’s Alison Hill-Graves

Alison Hill-Graves, the CCC’s development and communications director, says in previous years they’ve served as many as 1,000 kids, but now they focus on the quality of the experience, not just the quantity of bikes and kids.

“It’s important to us to create a magical experience,” she says.

CCC's Holiday Bike Drive

To achieve that, the CCC does much more than just give kids a bike and send them on their way. The event gives kids a free helmet, fun and interactive bike safety lessons, a few laps through the bike rodeo, and an arts and crafts table where the kids make thank-you cards for volunteers.

Hill-Graves says the event also has an international flavor with the kids speaking a variety of languages including Russian, Chinese, Spanish, and Vietnamese. (The CCC has multi-lingual volunteers ready to help).

I attended the event last year (read my report) and it was indeed quite magical.

Imagine wide-eyed kids, with their parents close behind, entering a large hall at Legacy Emanuel Hospital that’s stocked with rows and rows of bikes: The kids can choose whichever bike they’d like (the CCC actually preps an additional 50 bikes just to make sure there are plenty of choices).

CCC's Holiday Bike Drive

It’s the result of an effort that takes a year of planning to make happen. There are bike collections held year-round (helped by partners like REI, who hold collections at their retail locations); weekly volunteer nights held at the CCC where scores of volunteers clean and repair all the bikes (it feels like Santa’s Workshop in the months leading up to the event); and the CCC has worked with more than 40 schools and social service agencies to make sure they help the kids most in need.

But for everyone involved with this event, all that hard work is more than worth it. Hill-Graves says for many, it’s a chance to feel like a kid again,

“It’s a chance to reconnect with that feeling many of us had, perhaps long ago – when we received our first bike. Remembering the sense of joy, freedom, and independence provides a sense of connection with our own past and with the hope of a bright future with a new generation of kids riding happily and safely.”

Learn more about the Holiday Bike Drive, including how you can help make it happen by visiting CommunityCyclingCenter.org. There’s also a bike drive collection event tomorrow (12/1) in Lake Oswego and West Linn being held in partnership with Exchange Cycle Touring Club. Check out full details here.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

  • a.O November 30, 2007 at 10:13 am

    This is wonderful. We help create an experience every kid deserves and we make the City a better place all at once. Thank you CCC et al!

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  • Alison November 30, 2007 at 11:17 am

    Yay bikes!

    This event shows the best of what the bike community can do. It is pure, unadulterated bike love. Kids get bikes, people come together throughout the year to help every step of the way. Dozens of businesses step up, too. And staff work tirelessly to make it a festive occassion (Neal, Morgan, and Eloise specifically).

    Thanks to every single person who has helped us make it happen. We couldn\’t do it without you!

    Community Cycling Center

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  • Paul Tay November 30, 2007 at 11:57 am

    Yep. Don\’t pass out free bikes without the instructional manual. Bikes aren\’t toys, people. The MOST common bike-car crash type AND age: a 7 year-old darts out mid-block on bike and gets nailed.

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  • Matt Picio November 30, 2007 at 12:04 pm

    You can still donate bikes, too! As Jonathan mentioned, ECT is partnering with CCC for a collection event TOMORROW in Lake Oswego, and local girl scout troops are also collecting for ECT and CCC in West Linn. Thanks to all who are/have donating/ed bikes and supporting the programs of these two organizations! Thanks especially to Neal for his tireless effort with coordinating CCC\’s side of the LO/West Linn collection!

    matt picio
    Exchange Cycle Tours

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  • Joe November 30, 2007 at 12:48 pm

    I remember my first bike, what a feeling.. ohh wait i still feel it.. 🙂

    The gift that keeps giving as they say.


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  • Alison November 30, 2007 at 1:04 pm

    Paul, I\’m very curious about your crash statistics. Can you email me offline with more info?



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  • Paul Tay November 30, 2007 at 2:10 pm

    Alison, sure no problem.

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  • Paul Tay November 30, 2007 at 2:14 pm

    The 1974 Ken Cross study on bike-car collisions: http://www.johnforester.com/Articles/Safety/Cross01.htm

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  • caitlin December 1, 2007 at 3:29 am

    I am a teacher at a very low-income school in east Portland. Many students in my classroom have received bikes at this event in the past. It is a truly excellent event. Volunteers treat students and their families with respect and children leave feeling very proud of their new bikes.

    My school is slated to be one of the first served with the Safe Routes to School program if Sam Adam\’s proposal becomes a reality. Hopefully that will help get our kids on their new bikes more often and with helmets. Getting our students and families to understand how important their new helmets are is extremely difficult. I model helmet use in my classroom everyday when I arrive on my bike, but many still find them unnecessary.

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  • beth h December 1, 2007 at 1:31 pm

    This is absolutely one of the best bike things in Portland.

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  • janis December 5, 2007 at 11:34 am

    I would like to thank everyone that helps put this on. I have gone the last couple of years and it is a very moving experience.

    Yea CCC!!!


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