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Holiday Giving Shifts into High Gear

Ryan at the Free Bikes for Kids warehouse

Dusty bikes are getting a new lease on life thanks to a Twin Cities organization. Free Bikes for Kids ( has been collecting gently used bikes since October and preparing them for kids who may not have one.

The program seven years ago when cycling enthusiast Terry Esau collected 50 bikes to give away during the holiday season. He had so much fun doing it that he turned his efforts into a nonprofit organization. 

Said Caleb Stellmach, who runs the Free Bikes for Kids website: “There are a lot of kids whose families can’t afford to buy them a new bike, or who can’t afford to buy them a new bike every time they outgrow the one they have. Our organization helps to put a bike into their hands.”

This year, more than 6,000 bikes of all types and sizes are being prepared for children throughout Minnesota. Each day, as many as 150 volunteers are sorting, cleaning, and repairing the bikes to get them ready for their new owners. 

Richard Borst of Bloomington, Minnesota, has volunteered regularly with the program for five years. “I’m retired and make provisions to come here every day of the week, Borst said, “I help with the repairs and the training of other volunteers. There are some volunteers who are very seasoned mechanics. With other volunteers, you just jump in and teach them whatever they need to know.” 



The bikes will start rolling out the door on “Give-A-Way Day,” which is planned for December 6. More than150 community organizations, churches, schools, and nonprofit organizations will come to the Minneapolis warehouse to pick up bikes for the kids they serve. 

Stellmach says that he likes the idea of contributing to kids’ happy childhoods. “It’s a lot of fun for the kids to have a bike, and it helps to keep them healthy and playing outside.  Our program is also important because it prevents bikes from getting thrown away or sitting unused in garages.”

Virtually all the donated bikes will have new homes after December 6. If there are any bikes left over, Free Bikes for Kids will ship them to kids in need overseas or give them to local bike shops.

The Free Bikes for Kids program is just in Minnesota right now, but they hope to replicate the program in other states. This is an organization that is certainly on a roll!

Photo courtesy of the author