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Bike-building marathon in West End

Cycle of Giving to bring happy holidays to children

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WRENCH executive director Patrick Krawec is excited to build over 250 bikes for those less fortunate with his team of mechanics and volunteers.

JORDAN THOMPSON Enlarge Image

WRENCH executive director Patrick Krawec is excited to build over 250 bikes for those less fortunate with his team of mechanics and volunteers. Photo Store

It’s almost like Santa’s workshop, but instead of elves making toys, volunteers will help to build bicycles.

The Winnipeg Repair Education and Cycling Hub (WRENCH) is holding its third annual Cycle of Giving event at the Orioles site of the Valour Community Club (448 Burnell St.). For 24 hours, from Dec. 14 at 6 p.m. to Dec. 15 at 6 p.m., the WRENCH mechanics as well as volunteers around the city will be building children’s bikes, typically for kids from ages two to eight.

"Volunteers get together, working in six-hour shifts. We try to process as many bikes as possible in 24 hours so that they can be redistributed through youth services organizations to give to kids for Christmas," WRENCH executive director Patrick Krawec said.

The WRENCH opened up its bike repair shop in the summer of 2011. The organization works mainly with unused or reclaimed bicycles, which are bicycles that have been donated or reclaimed from the waste stream.

"We have a bike recycling compound, and we pull 1,900 bikes a year," Krawec said.

Last year, the WRENCH recycled over 65,000 kilograms of bicycles and parts.

Krawec said that the establishment is a community health organization with a goal to build stronger and healthier communities, providing bicycle programming, teaching courses, and providing special events like the Cycle of Giving.

This year, the goal is to build 250 bikes. Last year’s goal was 200 bikes, but the event ended up with 286 bikes.

"We should be able to beat that again," Krawec said.

Krawec said the event is still accepting volunteers — and they don’t all have to be skilled mechanics. The event also requires some support staff, such as a bike cleaning team to make the bikes look brand-new. In the past, volunteers have also been in charge of making cards and ornaments and providing food.

Krawec said the Cycle of Giving is still looking for donations of children’s bicycles, as well as bike parts and supplies.

"In-kind donations of food during the event are always welcome," Krawec said. "For the past couple of years, we’ve had people drop off baking and snacks, and it’s been amazing."

When the bikes are completed after the 24 hours, Emterra Environmental will deliver them to youth services organizations. The remaining scrap parts and bicycles that were not rebuilt during the event will go to the Headingley Correctional Centre’s bike shop as part of the institution’s holistic prevention program.

Those interested in volunteering for Cycle of Giving can email cog@thewrench.ca


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