NEW ULM - The Free Bikes 4 Kidz program shared some holiday cheer by giving away free bicycles to kids in need Saturday in the old Martinka building.
The program was hosted throughout the Allina Health system and with the New Ulm Medical Center (NUMC). The organizations collected donations of lightly used bicycles back in October to obtain the bicycles for the program. NUMC collected 190 bicycles locally and 50 bicycles in Winthrop. Allina also donated locally nearly 190 helmets to complement the bicycles.
On Saturday, the bikes were distributed to families who qualified for the Santa's Closet program hosted next door at the New Ulm Armory by the Sertoma Club. The event was postponed to occur as a surprise offering alongside Santa's Closet. Other participating towns in the Allina program completed their events a few weeks prior to Saturday.
Staff photo by Josh Moniz
A couple was assisted by a volunteer worker in picking out a bicycle for an 11-year-old daughter on Saturday at the Free Bikes 4 Kidz held in the old Martinka building.
The bikes and helmets were initially distributed at the rate of one per family, though families with more than one child were called back later in the day to be allowed to take additional bicycles after the initial crowd had completed selection. The event was able to give away 175 bicycles free of charge throughout the day.
Carisa Buegler, director of the NUMC?Foundation, called the event a success. She said it was great opportunity that complemented both Allina and NUMC's health initiatives. She said the access to bicycles made it easier to participate in healthy activities, which increased the likelihood they would complete healthy activities throughout their lives.
The local branch of the project cost NUMC approximately $700, to complete all restorations to the donated bikes. The work on the bikes was done by community and NUMC volunteers.
"We really want to thank the volunteers. They made a big difference," said Buegler.
Josh Moniz can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.