Giving in high gear for bikes

A last-minute rush of support from Mecklenburg County residents has helped The Spokes Group pay for 2,000 bikes it gave away to low-income families at Christmas.

The Observer featured the 15-year-old south Charlotte charity in a Dec. 22 feature about the Salvation Army’s Christmas Bureau. The Spokes Group gives bikes to needy children every year, but its efforts were in trouble because a shortage in donations left the group about $50,000 short of the money it needed.

The organization gave the bikes away anyway, even though organizers were unsure how they’d pay the bill.

Since then, checks have come in from more than four dozen individuals along with a $20,000 grant from a national insurance group, Spokes Group founder Dick Dunn said.

He said some of the checks came from people who’d already donated earlier in the year.

“It really surprised me that we were able to raise the money we were able to with this economy,” Dunn said. “People really responded at the last minute, and checks are still coming in. Charlotte really is a giving community.”

Spokes Group co-founder Andy Beard said the money also goes to pay for bikes that are given to after-school programs run by the Boys and Girls Club and the Right Moves for Youth. The bikes provide incentives to encourage at-risk children to improve their grades and school attendance.

Beard said people tend to rally behind the organization because they remember how important their first bike was.

“While it may seem frivolous as opposed to having enough to eat or paying a power bill, for a kid it creates joy throughout the year,” Beard said.

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