School News: Bicycles for Humanity Chapter Takes Off

Fall 2019

A BMX racing team in Namibia at its latest shipping container, which was turned into a bike shop.SchoolNews_Porter_image4.jpg
A BMX racing team in Namibia at its latest shipping container, which was turned into a bike shop.
Bike donations to Namibia are received and sorted before being distributed to kids. Photos courtesy of Bicycles for Humanity

Chris Tate, dean of middle school at Porter-Gaud School (SC), is always looking for ways to get students involved in service. He started the first middle school garden, where students composted cafeteria food, grew vegetables, and donated produce to a local homeless shelter.

Driving home from school one afternoon in 2014, he spotted a gently used bike on the street, destined for the landfill. After searching for a place to donate it, he came across Bicycles for Humanity—a global, grassroots organization that ships bikes to communities in need. After donating the bike to the organization, which has more than 50 chapters in eight countries, he decided to push further. To get students involved, he founded the Bicycles for Humanity Charleston chapter.

Since 2014, the students have been working together to collect, repair, and dismantle used bikes so they can be shipped to remote locations. They also host fundraising events to raise money to cover shipping costs. 

In 2015, the group shipped its first container of 450 bikes to Karamoja, Uganda, with the help of the parent organization. In 2017, they sent 500 bikes to Namibia. Every container shipped stays in the destination country and becomes a bike shop—a touchstone where kids can learn about racing as well as bike maintenance and repair. The group’s most recent shipping container sent to Namibia became the home of the Ingwavuma Cycling Club.

Whether used to carry potable water, transport medical goods and personnel, or get kids to school more easily, the bikes can offer life-changing opportunities. One of the biggest contributors, ninth grader Sarah Quinn, collected more than 900 bikes over the past few years. “The best part is when we get emails with pictures, and you [see] the kids when they’re jumping up and down with their helmets and their bikes and they’re learning to ride,” she told a local ABC News affiliate.
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