HELENA – On Saturday morning, volunteers arrived at Helena’s M.O.P. Shop workspace to pick up bike tools for a good cause. The Queen City Wheel House organized a work day, where they put together children’s bicycles to be donated to families in need.
“We solicit donations of bicycles, try to turn those bicycles into running bicycles and circulate them back into the world,” said Dave Ellis.
Ellis and a friend organized the Wheel House in 2016, as a place where people could learn how to build, repair and maintain bikes.
The group gathers unwanted bikes and parts – both from donors and through a partnership with the Helena city transfer station, which shares some of the bikes that are thrown away. They then replace wheels, chains, seats and anything else needed to get the bikes ready for new owners.
There is something to do for people of all ages. 11-year-old Abigail Charlton and 9-year-old Jonathan Charlton helped pump air into tires and rode the child-sized bikes around to test them.
Volunteers put together about 25 working bikes last weekend and another 25 this weekend. Conrad Evarts was there for both work days.
“When this came up, I just thought it was the perfect way to spend a Saturday morning,” he said.
The bikes they prepared will be distributed to local kids next week, through the Cathedral of St. Helena’s annual Giving Tree event.
“An opportunity like this can make some kids happy at Christmas – happy kids, happy parents,” Ellis said. “Also, more people on bikes in Helena is a good thing.”
Evarts said events like this say a lot about Helena.
“One thing I found moving to Helena is, if you want to make friends and you want to be part of the community, volunteer for anything,” he said. “Because this seems to be a community that’s very much about volunteerism.”
The Queen City Wheel House also has other partnerships, providing bikes for organizations like the Helena School District and YWCA Helena. Ellis said they hope to find more ways to encourage bicycling and help people in need.
“Generally speaking, people are good and want to give their time and serve their community,” said Ellis. “and we hope that we turn into something like that, a place where people can feel like they’re doing good for their community. And who knows, they may come out of it with a bike of their own?”