Community

20th annual ReCYCLE Bike Drive generates 80 bikes for students in need


Courtesy of Gary Hedden
Kathleen Santora, left, and Margie Suozzo flank Theresa Lambert, Castro Elementary School principal, as they deliver recycled bicycles for students in need.

Two decades ago, Kathleen Santora launched the ReCYCLE Bike Drive at St. Nicholas Catholic School in Los Altos Hills. In recent years, the drive has evolved into a broader community event.

For its 20th anniversary last November, Santora – with the help of GreenTown Los Altos – collected 80 bicycles for distribution to students in need.

GreenTown joined the cause approximately five years ago, helping Santora not only with collecting bikes, but also with promoting the event and recruiting volunteers.

According to GreenTown Los Altos leader Margie Suozzo, volunteers take three steps to rehabilitate the gently used bikes donated to the drive: washing them, sewing tire tubes and completing basic repairs. Bikes that require more than 30 minutes of repairs are instead donated to Hope Services or Good Karma Bikes.

Typically, 50-100 bikes are donated every year, according to Suozzo. All of the work on the bikes is completed in one day.

November’s event, held at Los Altos High School, drew support from students.

“We got a lot of great volunteers from the high school – the Los Altos High School Green Team did some direct advertising for volunteers, as did the administration,” Suozzo said. “Those factors really helped make it a wonderful bike drive in terms of turnout of volunteers this year.”

Bikes that are repaired by volunteers are donated to the Mountain View Whisman School District, whose administrators determine who receives the bikes, and to the Los Altos School District for a bicycle safety education PE program. Mountain View Whisman officials often use the district’s free and reduced cost lunch program to select which children get bikes.

In the past, the bike drive offered drop-off locations at Blach Intermediate School and Egan Junior High, with Blach as the site to repair bikes and Egan as a delivery point prior to storing them in Los Altos High’s autobody shop. Partnering with Los Altos High this year has enabled organizers to use the school as a drop-off point and the bike cage underneath the stadium bleachers as a storage location.

“It was nice, because Los Altos High School already had a few bikes to start with,” Suozzo said. “We like to have our mechanics get to start working right away, and it also provided us a little bit of storage for other bikes that came in. It was a very visible location. … Lots of people driving by could see that the bike drive was happening, which was fun.”

To participate in this year’s drive, visit greentownlosaltos.org.

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