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Tomorrow: Teen’s Charity to Collect Bikes for Africa

by ARLnow.com December 10, 2010 at 3:41 pm 2,443 27 Comments

If you have an old bike that you don’t use any more, there’s a more satisfying way to get rid of it than selling it for $5 at a garage sale.

Wheels to Africa, a group founded by Arlington teen Winston Duncan five years ago, will be collecting bikes Saturday to send to people in need in Africa.

Duncan, now 16, held his first collection drive in 2005 when he was just 11.  It was a success far beyond his expectations, and soon local and national media outlets were profiling him and simple yet powerful idea of improving the mobility of needy Africans by sending them old bikes.

Now in its sixth year, Wheels to Africa will be collecting bikes at nine different drop-off locations in Northern Virginia tomorrow from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. There will be three Arlington locations: Swanson Middle School, Washington-Lee High School and Yorktown High School. See a list of all drop-off locations here.

The group is also seeking a $10 donation with each bike, to cover the cost of shipping.

Screenshot via WUSA9

  • MrStevens

    I doubt it costs only $10 to ship these bikes to “Africa.”

    This is a waste, just like cash for clunkers. There are plenty in this country who have a use for good, cheap transportation. Don’t give the bikes away, keep them and keep the supply of used bikes (especially well built older ones) in the US of A.

    • mehoo

      If we needed these bikes, people wouldn’t be giving them away, would they?

      Yeah, it would be nice if more Americans rode bikes…

  • KalashniKEV

    Ridiculous. The shipping cost on the bikes would be better put towards AIDS meds, food, and irrigation projects. What does an African need a bike for anyway?

    • mehoo

      Have you actually been to Africa?

      Transportation is important anywhere. Bikes allow Africans to get to jobs to grow food and make money to buy it, and to go get AIDS medication, etc. They need them just like they need that other stuff.

      • david

        Exactly. My last trip to Africa I spoke with kids who had to walk 10 miles each way to get to school. They would have killed for a bike to ride.

        • MrStevens

          Uphill too. Both directions.

      • KalashniKEV

        You obviously don’t understand the hierarchy of human needs. Food and not dying of AIDS come before “a day at school” and “endo kickflips…”

        • AllenB

          And there are plenty of groups helping with food and AIDS in Africa. But there are other needs as well.

        • mehoo

          So you only ever make charitable donations to support the most vital of human needs, huh?

        • V Dizzle

          If there was a linear relationship between “$ donated” and “AIDs cure/prevention”, this would make more sense, and further, there would already be a cure. There are other variables that play into suffering, and ignoring them because there is ‘something worse’ is a simplistic model and an ignorant response. This is armchair bashing of something that will make no difference you or I, and is counter-productive.

  • AllenB

    I see MrStevens and Kalashnikev are in full racist mode today. Bravo.

  • dave schutz

    Right now it’s about $6000 to ship a 40 x 8x 8 container from Shanghai to West Coast – not too different a trip from Baltimore to Africa. So, if you can fit 600 bikes into a container (seems reasonable) $10 sounds like it’s about right.

  • mehoo

    By the way, there are a few other bikes to Africa charities out there, including some that have operated here before this one. They all charge about $10 for shipping. When they get a really nice bike donated, they sell it here and use the money for overhead and shipping. Otherwise, they let the Africans fix up the bikes, because that supports their economy and they can fix absolutely anything with the fewest tools or parts possible. They are incredibly ingenious, out of necessity.

  • CrystalCity’er

    Some of the comments on this blog constantly remind me of the selfishness that is out there. I mean, really? Hating on such an innocent effort to help the less fortunate?

  • KalashniKEV

    I’d like to send a JDAM or two over to one of the “Pirate Motherships” in the Gulf of Aden… they are truly in need! Or perhaps donate a few hours of MQ-9 time and related “care packages” to the Janjaweed…

  • MrStevens

    There was nothing racist about my comment.

    I applaud these youths for trying to “do” something “good,” however, I think that sending bikes to Africa is similar to the cash for clunkers. It hurts people back here in America.

    CFK took out working used cars — used by the working poor, and inflated values of used vehicles (reduced supply.) Everyone look at your recent tax bill from Arlington, surprised to see your used car may have gone up in “value?”

    I can see the same thing happening with bikes.

    • Timbo

      This is nothing like Cash for Clunkers. Why do you keep bringing that up. I bet you are the type of guy that kicks homeless men in the nuts and then helps them to the voting line to vote Republican. Go back to find loop-holes in the tax code and let decent people continue to help the less fortunate.

    • AllenB

      When you put “Africa” in quotes, it sure sounds like you’re mocking the destination.

      And your reasoning now is hilarious. I don’t think that a well intentioned kid sending bikes to Africa is going to affect the used bike market here and your taxes. And to extend your reasoning, we should never give anything to people in any other countries because there are people in need here as well.

      I’ll stand by my “racist” and raise you a “Scrooge”.

      • MrStevens

        Africa is a continent, not a country. People seem to reference it many times as if its a county. Africa is larger than the US (minus Alaska), China and many other countries combined.

        • KalashniKEV

          Oh, damn!

          I had no idea!!!

          Well I certainly hope the bikes are going to the good part with the diamonds and ivory then…

      • MrStevens
        • AllenB

          Thank you MrStevens for the geography lesson but I doubt there is anyone on this thread who thinks that Africa is one country. And it also doesn’t excuse the narrow-mindedness you express about helping people in other countries. But please have another glass of BahHumbug.

    • mehoo

      Um, what? People are giving away these bikes. Is there a shortage of used bikes for the poor here? If you think so, why not start your own charity?

  • JimPB

    I am very, very proud that Winston is a neighbor, and I am honored to know him and his mother.

    Of the three persons in the immediate area who are periodically in the news (the other two are a Capitals player and a U.S. Senator), I hold Winston in the highest regard for his enduring concern for and action to help those in Africa. If I — if each of us — could match the standard of enduring concern and action for others that he has set.

    Winston and his mother visited Africa when he was a child, where, while a child, he saw the immense need, and went beyond the fads of childhood for a commitment that has endured well into adolescence.

    I am humbled by Winston’s commitment and enduring effort, and challenged — as I hope you are — to rise to his standard.

    Winston and his mother visited Africa when he was a child, where he saw the immense for need forwheels to help transport water and other things

    • CrystalMikey

      Well said. I think some of our fellow Arlingtonian posters are bit too cynical sometimes. 😛

  • Set the controls

    More power to this kid-what a great effort.

    I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Tanzania. Bikes are godsends to people there, especially in rural areas. Africans carry all sorts of products, sometimes in staggering volume on the backs (and fronts and sides) of bikes. When I was there 95% of the bikes were the black, heavy, one-speed Chinese bikes and people kept buying them and keeping them running because spare parts accompanied them from China. Hence the big Achilles heel of Bikes For Africa. Shops in many parts of Africa do not carry spare parts that would fit the bikes that Bikes For Africa is sending. The bikes would last a few months there (less than here since the terrain is rougher-not as many thorofares are paved) and then they would be cast aside. Best to send them where people already ride such bikes and parts are in stock.

  • JimPB

    Regretfully, hardness of heart is alive and well. Regretable at any time, but especially so at this season of the year. Maybe spirits will do transformative visits on Christmas Eve night.

    P.S. I’ve seen a range of needs like what Winston saw in Africa during my time in 3rd world countries around the earth. A big reason that I am so humbled and challenged by Winston’s effort is that I saw great needs but never even began to act after I returned to the states. And I was an adult. Maybe we need children to show us a better way.


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