Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Dreaming of a bike Christmas

Cycle of Giving volunteers work 'round the clock to make Christmas more shiny for 250 kids

  • Print


Volunteers get together at the Orioles Community Centre for a 24-hour bike repair marathon. Over 250 bicycles were repaired for children whose families can't afford to buy one for Christmas.

More than 250 children whose families wouldn't be able to afford to buy a bike will be getting refurbished ones under the Christmas tree thanks to an army of volunteers at a 24-hour bike-repair marathon.

Volunteers organized by WRENCH, which stands for Winnipeg Repair, Education and Cycling Hub, were able to refurbish more than 250 bikes during its third annual Cycle of Giving bike-building marathon during the weekend.

"It's nice to think of that child who will get a bike all shiny," volunteer Kate MacKay said Sunday as she put the final touches on a small, purple two-wheeler a young child could soon be riding. "There's few things as rewarding as teaching a kid to ride a bike. It's a confidence-builder and it is an important step.

"I've been volunteering since noon and I will be here next year and the year after," MacKay said.

For 24 hours starting Saturday at 6 p.m., the gymnasium inside the Orioles Community Centre at 448 Burnell St. was transformed into a bicycle repair shop.

Pat Krawec, WRENCH's executive director, said 900 bicycles were taken out of the Brady Road Landfill earlier this year and brought to the community centre. The bikes included kids bikes, tricycles, 10-speeds, and mountain bikes.

"The bikes that need the least work go first," Krawec said. "If you're going to put out 250 bikes that work well, you don't have time to work on something that's been in a landfill for a year-and-a-half already or used by someone's big brother."

At one end outside the community centre, hundreds of bicycles sat in snow waiting to be worked on. At the other end of the centre, repaired bikes, cleaned and shined, were parked back into the snow before being picked up by several organizations, including Newcomer Employment Education Development Services (NEEDS Inc.), which will distribute bicycles to immigrant and refugee children, youth and families they support.

Krawec said the volunteers include mechanics from bicycle repair shops and ordinary Winnipeggers who fix their own bikes.

He said bicycles not repaired now will be taken to be fixed up by inmates at Headingley Correctional Centre and then distributed across the province.

Nearby, Richard Helbig, a science and mathematics teacher at Hugh John Macdonald School, an inner-city junior high school -- who also runs an after-school bicycle repair club -- said it's great to be able to fix so many bikes.

"I'm mostly making sure everything on it is tight -- it's probably better now than when the first owner took it home," Helbig said.

Across from him, two students, 13-year-old John Nai and his 15-year-old brother, Jack, said they appreciate coming in to help other children get a bicycle.

"It's great -- last year I got a bike so I know what it's like," John said.

"It's fun -- I enjoy doing this and helping out," Jack said.

On the other side of the room, past boxes full of bicycle seats and other assorted parts, Jayson Gillespie was using a special tool to tighten the spokes on the wheels of a tricycle. When not on his knees repairing a used tricycle, Gillespie is coach of the Manitoba Provincial Cycling team.

"This is different than the high-end bikes we use," Gillespie said laughing. "These have had lots of wear and tear. But you can ride this in the basement -- you don't have to ride it outside."

WRENCH is still accepting monetary donations at or by mailing a cheque to the WRENCH, 1057 Logan Ave., Winnipeg, MB, R3E 3N8.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 16, 2013 B1


Updated on Monday, December 16, 2013 at 6:34 AM CST: Replaces photo, adds slideshow

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Jim Flaherty remembered at visitation as irreplaceable

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • The sun peers through the fog to illuminate a tree covered in hoar frost near Headingley, Manitoba Thursday- Standup photo- February 02, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • A group of Horese pose for the camera in the early evening light at Southcreek Stables in Stl Norbert Wednessday. Sept  14, 2011 (RUTH BONNEVILLE) / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos


What are you most looking forward to this Easter weekend?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google