Thursday September 22, 2016
South Burlington students Patrick and Nora Clear have joined forces with their Eastwoods’ neighbors Paul Demers and Joanne Heidkamp to help with the annual Pedals for Progress collection of used bikes and sewing machines. The donated items will be shipped to self-help groups in Guatemala and Tanzania.
This year’s collection is Saturday, September 24 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the old K-Mart parking lot, 947 Shelburne Road. Pedals for Progress will accept any bike that can be repaired, even if the tires are flat, the seat is torn, or the chain is slipped. “The only thing we can’t handle is a broken frame or deep rust,” says Paul Demers. “Anything else can be fixed, and these bikes will be on the road for years to come.” Sewing machines should be in working condition and can be portable or table models. The group requests $10 with each item donated to help cover overseas shipping expenses. A receipt for tax purposes is provided for the full value of the donation.
According to Heidkamp, Nora, a seventh grader at Frederick H. Tuttle Middle School, updates the group’s sign with the date and location of the collection each year, and her brother Patrick, a fifth grader at Orchard, “is lightning fast at putting together the sturdy cartons used to ship portable sewing machines.” Demers adds, “Their energy and enthusiasm inspire us.”
Demers and his wife, Joanne Heidkamp, have volunteered with the annual Pedals for Progress event since 1999. Since that time, local Pedals for Progress volunteers have shipped more than 3,300 bikes and 150 sewing machines from Vermont to community projects in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Uganda, Moldova, and Vietnam. The bikes and sewing machines collected last year were shipped to Fiji.
“There are hundreds of old bikes and sewing machines in this community that are just collecting dust,” says Demers. “When you donate these items, plus $10 toward shipping, they are transformed into a lifeline for someone who is struggling just to survive. Bikes are environmentally sustainable transportation to get to work or school; sewing machines allow people to learn skills and start a small business. It is just amazing how people’s lives are changed by this simple technology.”
For more information or to volunteer, call Joanne Heidkamp at 802-238-5414 or visit the group’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/p4pVermont.