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Sanibelians collect used bicycles for Immokalee farm worker families

By Staff | Jan 25, 2010

Concerned citizens of Sanibel are once again mounting a campaign to collect used bicycles for needy farm worker families in Immokalee. This is the second year for the bike collection campaign on Sanibel.

The farm worker community in Immokalee is one of the poorest in the country, and living conditions are very difficult for most of the families there. A recent documentary series on public broadcasting station WGCU demonstrated this in dramatic fashion. Immokalee residents have many needs, from clothing to basic household goods, and prominent among the items they need are bicycles, which they use for basic transportation. The level of poverty is such that cars are an unaffordable luxury and even buying a new bike is difficult.

Several groups are involved in the Sanibel effort, including The Sanibel Bicycle Club and Billy’s Rentals, who will be facilitating collection of the bikes, and Soon Come Contract Hauling, who will be warehousing the collected bikes prior to deliver to Immokalee. Point persons for the Sanibel effort are Patti Sousa for the Sanibel Bicycle Club, Billy Kirkland for Billy’s Rentals and Annie Nachtheim for Soon Come.

Distribution of the bicycles in Immokalee will be handled by Redlands Christian Migrant Association (RCMA), a non-sectarian, non-profit group providing child care and early education for children of migrant farm workers and rural low-income families throughout Florida. RCMA is a United Way affiliated organization and also receives financial support from agri-businesses, community foundations and contributions from individuals. Sanibel resident Ellis Robinson serves on the Board of RCMA. Information about RCMA is available online at www.rcma.org.

Anyone who has a bike they don’t need anymore – used or new – is encouraged to donate it to the cause. Even older bikes are welcome if they are in reasonable condition, as the Immokalee folks are adept at making repairs and giving them a new life. Kid’s bikes are a particular focus of the collection drive, although any type of bike is welcome. For every kid’s bike donated, a new safety helmet will be supplied by the Sanibel Bicycle Club.

Anyone wishing more information about the collection drive can call Annie Nachtheim at 395-8700. hose with bikes to donate can bring them to Billy’s Bike Shop at 1509 Periwinkle Way, across from Billy’s Rentals). If you can’t bring them there yourself, please call Annie Nachtheim at Soon Come to arrange for a pick-up. Collection of bikes will continue until Friday, Feb. 19, after which they will be delivered to grateful new owners in Immokalee.

If you don’t have an old bike to contribute but would still like to help support the cause, cash donations are also welcome. Immokalee farm workers have been particularly hard-hit by the extreme cold this month, which has harmed crops and reduced income. Checks can be made out to Redlands Christian Migrant Association and dropped off at Billy’s Bike Shop, where you will be given a receipt for your donation. Cash donations are tax deductible.