On Saturday, October 7, 2023, the Rotary Club of Westfield collected 69 bicycles and 4 sewing machines to send to the developing world. Saturdays collection will be divided between Togo in West Africa, or Belize, in central America.

This program was started by an American working with the Peace Corps in Ecuador. He noticed that a carpenter with a bicycle was a lot more productive than another carpenter who had to walk and carry his tools everywhere. This gave him the idea to start shipping used bikes to the third world. A bicycle will enable a person to get to work easier or produce more, if they run a small business. Children may be able to ride longer distances in order to attend school. When a person gets a sewing machine, they could start their own small business, and be able to support a family.

Bicycles will change an individual person’s life for the better, plus many bikes will help raise the GDP of a country, bikes do not produce air pollution, and a shipment of 500 bikes creates jobs, since now the village will need a bike shop to do repairs, fix flats, and trade bikes. When the bikes arrive in the country, they are sold for a small amount to give them value. From the donations, road bikes go to countries with paved roads and mountain bikes go to countries with dirt roads.

Americans purchase 50 million bikes per year, and dispose of 20 million perfectly good bikes in landfills every year.

The Westfield Rotary Club joined this program in 2007. Rotarian Warren Rorden has been the committee chair for 26 years. Warren states that we have collected over 2,500 bikes and 100 sewing machines in that time. The club works with a non-profit organization, Pedals For Progress, website www.p4p.org which collects and ships the bikes. We also ask for a monetary donation in addition to the bikes to help pay for shipping costs.

Twelve Rotarians came to the event to process the bikes, plus four more non-Rotarian volunteers, including a high school student Lydia Wright, and a High School Rotary Exchange student from France, Serena. People donating bikes came from all over: Westfield; Scotch Plains: Cranford; Randolph; and Sparta. One Rotarian brought 14 bikes.

The Rotary Club of Westfield meets the first three Tuesdays of each month for lunch at noon, at Limani Seafood Grill on North Ave. Guests are always welcome. For information check out the website www.westfieldrotary.com  or contact club secretary Dr. D. Michael Hart by email at drmhart@yahoo.com

Photos: Westfield Rotarians and guests collecting and processing bikes.