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Two wheels to Tanzania

Delmar man organizing bike collection for overseas aid

Children in Vinh Long province in Vietnam with bicycles provided by the Pedals for Progress foundation. The group collects bikes to send overseas to poor and rural areas, where they can make a big difference. Charlie Hughes, a Delmar resident, is organizing a local drive to be held Saturday, Sept. 17.

Children in Vinh Long province in Vietnam with bicycles provided by the Pedals for Progress foundation. The group collects bikes to send overseas to poor and rural areas, where they can make a big difference. Charlie Hughes, a Delmar resident, is organizing a local drive to be held Saturday, Sept. 17. Submitted Photo

— The bikes aren't actually given away to people. They have to purchase them from the local agency distributing the bike at market price.

This serves not only to stimulate the local economy but strengthen the groups Pedals for Progress works with, said Merchant. For example, the Tanzanian shipment will be given to the distributing agency (the Unity in Diversity Foundation), but after selling the bikes and keeping good records that group should be able to pay shipping costs on at least a portion of the next shipment, and so on.

“People who have to pay for a bike value it a lot more,” Merchant added.

In some instances, the sale of the bikes has allowed overseas groups to branch out into other projects like water purification.

Hughes was involved in a Pedals for Progress drive when he lived in New Jersey, where the group is headquartered. Now a resident of Delmar, he's taking up the cause at St. Vincent in Albany. Members of the parish and others are volunteering to work the drive and get the bicycles ready to be shipped.

Donated bikes should be in working or repairable condition. Tricycles won't be accepted, nor will bikes that are in very poor condition.

“We don't mind a little rust on the handlebars, but we don't want any rusted frames. They just cant be used,” Hughes said.

Bicycle donors are also asked to make at least a $10 donation towards the cost of shipping the bike overseas. The cost to get a bike to Tanzania is actually about $40. Both the value of the bike and the transportation donation are tax deductible, and staff at the collection will give donors a receipt on the spot.

The collection will take place at the St. Vincent de Paul Parish Center, 984 Madison Avenue in Albany (across the street from the College of St. Rose) from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 17., rain or shine.

For more information on Pedals for Progress, visit p4p.org.

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