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.
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.
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
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
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!
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
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.
In March, Wheels For Kids delivered about 50 bikes to our partner organizations in Tucson. That put us over 2,100 bikes delivered.
For the March donations we would like to highlight Arizona’s Children Association (Kinship Program) and Literacy Connects’ Reading Seed Program – both new Wheels for Kids community partners. A brief introduction of their programs is included below.
Arizona’s Children Association, Kinship Program (KARE) (https://www.arizonaschildren.org/kinship/).
This program supports caretakers who provide care for their relatives’ children and/or working toward adoption of these children. In Arizona, there are more than 160,000 children living in homes headed by grandparents or other relatives. Our programs help support these very special families and their potential to provide a positive alternative to traditional foster care. Classes, support groups and other activities are held at our Kinship Adoption Resource & Education (KARE) Center in Tucson and other locations around the state. Research indicates that children in kinship care experience greater stability than those in traditional foster care. Kinship caregivers provide love and support in a familiar setting, allowing children to remain connected with their families and communities. They are able to live with people they know and trust, thereby reinforcing their sense of cultural identity and well-being.
Literacy Connects/Reading Seed (est. 1995) recruits and trains volunteer reading coaches to work one-on-one with students in kindergarten through third grade who are reading below grade level. We distribute free books to children and offer a leveled lending library for coaches, teachers and other literacy providers with books that match K-12 students’ interests and reading ability.
Reading Seed supports elementary schools and students by:
Recruiting and training volunteer reading coaches to work with students in K–5th grade who are reading below grade level.
Emphasizing reading as a positive experience in a non-judgmental environment.
Increasing confidence, vocabulary, fluency and reading comprehension in students.
Delivering high interest, low reading level literacy resources from our Lending Library to schools for Reading Coaches and teachers.
Providing free books for students to encourage independent reading.
Wheels for kids is very pleased to be working with these organizations and expects this to be the beginning of a lasting partnership.
Logan Burtch-Buus, The Explorer | Updated Yesterday (4/12/17)
Several weeks ago Tucson resident Rosanna Velasco returned to her temporary home at the Gospel Rescue Mission to find her three-year-old son, Zack, astride a bright green bicycle, wearing a blue helmet emblazoned with flames and a smile spreading from ear to ear. Quite surprised to find her son on a new bike, Velasco said she was even more surprised to hear the bike now belonged to her son, thanks to the efforts of a group of volunteers from Oro Valley.
Founded 10 years ago by Sun City Oro Valley resident Dick Swain, WFK collects donations of new and used bicycles and refurbishes (or tunes up) the equipment for use by underprivileged children and their families, refugees, and others within the greater Tucson community. An all-volunteer staff, WFK partners with community and service organizations to locate those in-need of a memorable gift.
“The tagline exemplifies how I feel about it, and how we all still feel about it,” Swain said. “Everyone remembers their first bike.” Swain said the group got its start as a spinoff of two other organizations within the Sun City community, Seniors For Kids, which comprises of men and women making toys and crafts and collecting supplies for families in-need, and the local cycling club. As a member of both organizations, Swain said he one day realized the potential of his two hobbies, and began talking with his fellow cyclists. After 10 individuals volunteered, the organization got off the ground by using the philanthropic connections of its fore groups.
It didn’t take long to get the ball—or in this case the tire—rolling. Wheels For Kids has grown since 2007, now staffed by a team of roughly 40 volunteers, and recently celebrated a significant milestone when it donated its 2,000th bike to Zack.
“He loves bikes,” Velasco said of her son. “He was just really happy; he was showing it off, had his picture taken because he is very proud of it, and he loves his helmet as well.”
Velasco said her son has developed quite a fascination with bicycles and motorcycles despite his young age; his father, grandparents and uncle are all avid motorcycle-riders, and Zack had previously been riding around on a plastic tricycle – or what he referred to as his motorcycle.
“It means a lot to me and my son,” she said. “Being in recovery and in a place like this, it shows that there are still really good people out there and God has blessed us. They are a blessing, giving back to us.”
For WFK president Tom Terfehr, who said he joined the group as a mechanic, the small moments shared with families like the Velascos are what make the time behind the wrench worth it. “It seemed to me, and I think this is true for a number of mechanics, that it is a great way to use your skills for a good cause,” he said. “I always imagine that when I am working on a bike, that this is going to someone’s grandkid. It could be going to mine, and that’s really what motivates me. It’s partly just giving something back to someone who might otherwise not ever have a chance to ride a bike.”
Whether sitting on 12-inch wheels or 700C adult tires, WFK mechanic Ernie Fisher said the process of rehabbing donations (or tuning up new bikes) all depends on the quality of product donated to the group. Once a bike is received, Fisher said a mechanic assesses its individual needs, disassembles it and begins an extensive cleaning process. Anything that cannot be tuned back into full use is replaced, and the end result is a shining bike that looks like it just rolled off the line.
Though youth like Zack don’t yet comprehend the amount of team effort and labor it took to retool his bike, Velasco said she will use the experience as an opportunity to impart future life lessons upon her son: teamwork, the importance of charity and the value of possessions, to name a few.
Already past its 2,000th donation, Swain and Terfehr said WFK only has room to grow, and will continue its mission of providing less fortunate members of their community with their first bikes. More information on the group and how to get involved can be found at www.azwfk.org.
WFK Editor’s note: Dick Swain’s name was misspelled in the original article. It is correct in this reprint.
A Sun City Oro Valley volunteer group has donated its 2,000th refurbished bicycle to local youths and adults in need.
Wheels For Kids, which was founded in 2007 by Dick Swain, collects used bikes and overhauls them, makes sure they operate correctly and are safe, and then donates them to deserving children, teens and adults in Tucson.
The group began with 10 volunteers and now has 40 volunteers helping the effort.
Recently, the nonprofit donated its 2,000th bicycle to a boy at the Gospel Rescue Mission.
The group has donated bicycles to organizations such as Youth on their Own, Casa de los Niños, Tucson Boys’ and Girls’ Club and GAP Ministries.