Pod Party – Feb. 2019

On February 2, 2019 a group of Wheels For Kids mechanics gathered together for a “Pod Party.” These events are held in the Sun City Oro Valley golf maintenance building parking lot. Mechanics work in teams to either build new bikes or refurbish bikes. Socializing is of course a special part of the experience. During this event 21 new bikes were assembled, inspected, adjusted and the occasional part replaced as necessary. A final quality control check was completed and the bikes stored for delivery.

WFK inventory of smaller bikes had been substantially depleted so these bikes were a welcome addition. The following week Melanie Stout, our contact with Saddlebrooke Community Outreach, came by and picked up 5 kids bikes, 5 26” bikes and 1 larger bike. She was so grateful for the donation and assured us that the recipients at San Manuel Middle School will be thrilled. Later in the week the delivery team made a round of deliveries (Boys and Girls Club of Tucson, Catholic Community Services, Casa de los Ninos, International Rescue Committee and El Grupo). All those bikes will make wishes come true for many in our community.

On behalf of all Wheels For Kids partner charities, thank you to all who continue to share their time, skills and energy supporting the good work of Wheels For Kids.

Off to a good start!

Wheels For Kids is off to a good start in 2019 with 31 bikes delivered to date and two new partners – Grace Retreat Foster and Adoption Services and Tucson Borderlands Young Adult Volunteers program. Both organizations received 3 bikes earlier this month.

Grace Retreat currently works with 55 families which include 88 children. An interesting aspect of this organization is that all staff members have personal experience of foster care and/or adoption which gives them an invaluable perspective working with their clients.

The Tucson Borderlands YAV program supports young adults as they spend a year volunteering with non-profits in communities around the world. Unfortunately three bikes, which the volunteers use for transportation to and from their work sites had been stolen out of a locked shed and she wondered if WFK could help. Wheels for Kids was able to respond.

The Outreach team also delivered bikes to Casa de los Ninos, Impact of Southern Arizona, Youth on their Own, Catholic Community Services, El Grupo, International Rescue Committee and Gospel Rescue Mission. Rick Haupt accompanied the team on a delivery which was enjoyable for all; pictures attached. As always, our Partners were happy to see the truck pull up and unload the treasures!

Thank you to our bike and financial donors around Tucson and the Wheels For Kids volunteers for all you do.

Jim Click drawing

Recently, Wheels For Kids attended the drawing for the 3 prizes given away by Jim Click at the Tucson Convention Center. As usual, there were many non-profit organizations represented. The atmosphere is always festive at these annual drawings. A huge tumbling drum (tickets in there) is set up in front of the Grand Prize – a 2018 Grand Jeep Cherokee. Jim Click took time to mention all the nonprofits that he has personally visited over the years. Wheels For Kids always gets recognized.

We thank each and everyone of you for supporting Wheels For Kids by purchasing a ticket or tickets. This year our raffle team sold 285 tickets for the purchase of bike parts, components and supplies for refurbishing donated bikes for kids, teens and needy adults. Overall, 361 Tucson nonprofits participated in this years’ raffle and 41,000 tickets were sold.

The entire proceeds from ticket sales are kept by the individual, charitable organizations.

Now, a few words about the drawing. Jim Click draws the winning ticket for each prize and then calls the winner from his cell phone while the audience listens. The 3rd place winner was Diane Tretschok of Tucson won the $5000. Diane had to be convinced that Jim Click is indeed who he claimed to be before she allowed herself to get excited over her winnings.

The 2nd place winner was Richard Swanson of Gilbert AZ. His mother answered the phone with disbelief! 1st class airline tickets to anywhere in the world for 2! Jim Click suggested that he should take his mother!

The winner of the grand prize 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee was Dennis Vannorman of Tuscon. Jim Click made the call and had to leave a message. The Jim Click team will follow-up.

Wheels For Kids thanks you for your support We could not bring the joy of biking to children without your financial support. You have touched the hearts of so many.

Season 4 Hope campaign

During the holiday season 2018 Wheels For Kids participated in the News 4 Tucson 10th annual Season 4 Hope campaign.

Season 4 Hope helps benefit the community food bank of southern Arizona by helping prove emergency food boxes. Season 4 Hope, also partners with Toys for Tots by collecting new toys and bicycles for the holiday season.

Wheels for Kids representatives traveled to Tucson Fire Station #20 to deliver 6 bikes and helmets complete with bows and ribbons.

Our team was interviewed by News Anchor Angelique Lizarde and featured on one of the News 4 evening broadcasts.

Wheels For Kids has been a participant in the Season 4 Hope campaign for more than five years. It was gratifying to deliver bikes again this year.

Holiday Bikes!

Our Wheels for Kids elves have been busy fixing and shining up bikes. The delivery team’s sleigh has made several trips making lives merry and bright. Fortunately, both the elves and the sleigh are available many months of the year!

Last May before the elves took some time off to recuperate, they delivered 4 bikes to Refugee Focus (picture attached) and Literacy Connects. Our contact at Refugee Focus, Mukadesa, greeted us with a hug and ‘God Bless you’ as she always does. Solomon, a new client had recently secured employment and was in need of a bike, so the timing was perfect. Literacy Connects’ Reading Seed program works with local elementary schools to improve reading skills and was planning on raffling off the bikes at their year-end celebration!

As the fall kicked off, more of the elves returned and the workshop buzz began. Ernie (Elf-in-Charge) hosted a tune-up clinic in November and many elves gathered for a Pod Party in December. We had one delivery in October, 33 in November and 29 (so far) in December! Those organizations included International Rescue Committee, More Than a Bed, Impact of Southern Arizona, Casa de los Ninos, GAP Ministries, Gospel Rescue Mission, Perimeter Bicycling, Ronald McDonald House Catholic Community Services and KVOA’s Season 4 Hope (Toys for Tots)! Wherever the sleigh landed, the delivery team was greeted with smiles and in several cases, hugs.

No matter the time of year, Wheels for Kids brings good tidings and cheer.

Distinguished Service Award for Sharon Heaps

We have often said that Wheels for Kids has been blessed with outstanding volunteers.

None more so than Sharon Heaps; Treasurer, Board Secretary, Fundraiser and all around “git it done” person.

Her husband Dave is proudly looking on as Sharon is awarded a Wheels for Kids Distinguished Service Award.

Notably, this is only the third one awarded since our start in 2007!

Sun City Oro Valley Provides OUTSTANDING Support for Wheels for Kids!

Since it’s start in 2007, Wheels for Kids has enjoyed wonderful support from the Sun City Oro Valley
Community. They have provided storage space free of charge and services large and small that
allow us to conduct our mission — provide bikes for those in need. Early financial support was
primarily provided by Vistoso Cyclists.

One particular group has been incredibly supportive financially. The Sun City Vistoso Community
Foundation provided a grant in 2017 that allowed us to purchase a 40 foot container for temporary
bike storage. That proved to be of immense help to our organization’s efficiency. We were now
able to devote our time to repairing bikes rather than moving them from place to place for
temporary storage.

This year they made another very generous donation, which will ensure that we have the parts and
supplies we need to begin another season’s work. By the end of this next season, we should be
approaching 3,000 bikes delivered.

There are 2,605 local people who are very grateful for Wheels for Kids and their very generous
supporters. Thank you Sun City Vistoso Community Foundation for your very generous sustained

A new partner organization – More Than a Bed

We are happy to inform you that we have added More Than A Bed to our Community Partner list.

More Than a Bed’s mission reads: “To support foster families and the children in their homes by providing for practical needs”. We met with the founder, Grace Stocksdale last weekend, who like our own, Dick Swain, had an ‘Aha’ moment while volunteering with GAP Ministries (another one of our partners!). She realized that the needs were great in foster care, and that this was an area she could do something about.

Grace and a friend started with a couple of tables worth of donated goods, and it has now grown into an enterprise supporting foster families that are approved by the Arizona Department of Children Services and/or court ordered cases.

More Than A Bed is a 501(c)(3), and is an approved Arizona Tax Credit non-profit organization.

Last Saturday we had a tour of their warehouse facility that contains formula, diapers, baby equipment, clothing, shoes, books, toys, furniture, bikes and more. Very impressive! While we were there, a few foster families came by to shop and there were others who dropped off donations. The majority of the work is done by volunteers.

We will be making our first delivery to More Than a Bed next week – just in time for Christmas and Hanukkah!

2017 Fiscal Year – Summary

On April 30 Wheels For Kids completed its 2017 fiscal year. Well, what a year it has been. The results are in – 486 bikes delivered this year. Over the past three years we have averaged about 270 bikes each year. The Toys for Tots bikes we received in January 2017 pushed the number this fiscal year to nearly double our average. We had a once in a lifetime opportunity to make even more of a difference in Tucson and our team stepped up. As a result there are 486 new kids and families in Tucson who are blessed with a bike they would otherwise not have.

The extra efforts of everyone on the Wheels For Kids team this year are heartwarming and deserving of respect and admiration. As President I send my deepest thanks. It is an honor to work together and be part of this wonderful organization of all volunteers. We would also like to thank the charities we have worked with this year. It is also through their efforts that all those bikes made their way to deserving kids, adults and families in Tucson

Distinguished Service Award – April 10, 2017

AZ Wheels for Kids Distinguished Service Award winners

from left to right: Jack Melville, Libby Melville, Dick Swain, Arlene Douglas, Rose Mary Meyer, Olivia Haupt, Tom Meyer, Rick Haupt

Recently Wheels For Kids created a Distinguished Service Award to honor WFK team members who have faithfully, tirelessly, unselfishly and over many years dedicated themselves to the Wheels For Kids Mission: “Receive gently used bikes from donors throughout Tucson, refurbish them and then donate the bikes to charities who distribute them to deserving kids and families.”

On April 10 the Wheels For Kids Distinguished Service Award was presented to three individuals who have been an integral part of building this organization into what it is today. In February we donated our 2000th bike. That milestone is due in no small measure to the contributions of these exceptional people. Their generous hearts have brought joy to many.

Thanks from the 40+ Wheels For Kids team and a grateful acknowledgement from over 2,000 children and families goes to:

  • Rick Haupt – President with visionary leadership for 5 years, extensive structural and business process improvement work and bicycle mechanic since Wheels For Kids early days
  • Jack Melville – bicycle mechanic since Wheels For Kids early days and Parts Purchasing Leader
  • Tom Meyer – liaison with Vistoso Cyclists, Board Member, Governance leadership and business process improvement work

Their leadership and dedication to serving others serves as an inspiration to us all.