SALT LAKE CITY — Six seniors at Judge Memorial Catholic High School saw the culmination of their hours of service at the Salt Lake Bicycle Collective on Friday as they delivered 29 children's bikes to refugee families.
"It makes it a lot more interesting volunteering with the collective. … Now we’re seeing bikes that we worked on be delivered to people that are in need, and it’s actually a lot more impactful than putting them together," said Topher Parker, one of the students.
As they delivered the bikes to the first homes, children crowded around the truck and immediately started riding the bikes around the parking lot of the complex with their siblings.
The students worked with Catholic Community Services to find refugee families who could benefit from the bikes.
Daniel Payne decided to combine his volunteer work at the Salt Lake Bicycle Collective with his desire to help refugees. He said his dad sponsors refugee families through Catholic Community Services.
"I’ve spent a lot of time around these families, and I’ve realized they’re coming with nothing, they’re leaving a home that is completely left, just devastated, they’re coming here for a new life and that’s very hard on them," Payne said.
He said delivering the bikes to the children was overwhelming and reminded him of riding his first bike.
The students at Judge Memorial Catholic High School are required to do 45 hours of service in the community during their senior year. Each of these boys chose to do that service at the Salt Lake Bicycle Collective.
The boys also organized a time where 30 students from their school came and helped with the project. Payne said, in total, Judge Memorial students have served at the Bicycle Collective 435 hours over the last seven months.
This has been a long process. It’s been very busy, I have a lot of stuff going on between homework (and) sports … but it’s been a lot of fun and it feels really good to cap a long process with me and my friends with an awesome service project today," Payne said.
Amy Wiscombe from the Salt Lake Bicycle Collective said the organization is able to give away about 300 adult bikes and 400 children's bikes each year. It receives bikes through donations, including from police who bring in bikes that have been abandoned, and volunteers fix the bikes so they can go back into the community.
"We think about how food and shelter is the most important, but then the next thing is transportation," Wiscombe said.
She said the students came to volunteer every Monday and sometimes on Wednesdays to help fix bikes and sort through parts.
Payne said he feels accomplished after fixing a bike that has been destroyed and making it useful again.
"It just feels really good knowing that it’s going out to a community that really needs it," Payne said.
I’ve spent a lot of time around these families, and I’ve realized they’re coming with nothing, they’re leaving a home that is completely left, just devastated, they’re coming here for a new life and that’s very hard on them.
Brody Powers, another student in the group, started volunteering at the Bicycle Collective in August. He said he has learned about the importance of giving back to the community through his experience.
"My favorite aspect of this is just the challenge that it provides because no bike is the same,” Powers said.
Payne and Powers both said they hope to stay involved with the Bicycle Collective through the summer and next year after they begin school at the University of Utah.
"It’s very much like a second home (at the Bicycle Collective), everybody gets really close and it’s a good community so I’d encourage more people to come volunteer," Powers said.