We wrote a couple weeks ago about Portlander Jenny Leonard's efforts to collect 400 bikes for South African children to help them get to school. Leonard reports that her collection drive this past weekend got 208 bikes for the storage container she's hoping to fill before it ships off this Thursday to Cape Town, South Africa.
And today (Monday, April 26), Leonard will be collecting mountain bikes, cruisers and kiddy bikes, as well as parts and tools from 4 pm to 7 pm at SE 14th and Alder.
Having studied abroad in South Africa in 2008, the 23-year-old Reed College graduate met Mercy, a local teenager who walked three hours between home and school in the morning and evenings. “She was my inspiration for the project,” says Leonard. “It's not common for people especially in rural areas to have bikes.”
Leonard adds that when people do have bikes, there usually aren't parts to fix them when they break. Leonard will herself leave for South Africa on May 12 for a six-month internship with the Bicycling Empowerment Network. The bikes will follow her, arriving around July 4, when they will be distributed 100 miles down the coast of Cape Town to a village yet to be determined.
Some donors have had a harder time parting with their bikes than others. Leonard recalled one donor who held on to her deceased mother's bicycle for 23 years. “It's really exciting and interesting to see who comes by. It's just been a trip,” says Leonard. “I just am so grateful to the outpouring support I have seen from the community.”
For more information, check out Leonard's Web site