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Free Bikes 4 Kidz
Allina Health and Free Bikes 4 Kidz
An employee volunteer helps fit a child with her first-ever bike helmet.
Allina Health employee C.J. Lunning spent her summer collecting more than 100 bikes at garage sales to donate at the Free Bikes 4 Kidz collection event earlier this month.
Every October, Allina Health partners with Free Bikes 4 Kidz, a non-profit organization geared toward helping all kids ride into a happier, healthier childhood by providing bikes to those most in need.
Kenneth H. Paulus, CEO of Allina Health, says, "Biking can be a life-long pastime. Many of our employees are avid cyclists, and we want to help make it possible for every child to participate in this healthy, fun and environmentally-friendly activity."
More than 5,000 bikes given to kids in need
A brother and sister duo try out their new bikes.
Xumeing celebrates his birthday by picking out his first-ever bike.
The subzero temperatures on December 7 and 8 didn’t stop hundreds of Allina Health employees from volunteering their time and efforts to distribute more than 5,000 bikes to kids in need. The distribution events capped off this year's partnership between Allina Health and Free Bikes 4 Kidz – in the fall, employees helped collect and prepare these bikes for distribution.
Volunteers at distribution sites throughout the Allina Health service area helped fit kids with helmets, measured kids for the right-sized bike, and handed out bike safety and concussion education booklets. When kids were asked to try their bikes out, their delighted shrieks and giggles brought smiles to everyone’s faces.
“The Free Bikes 4 Kidz distribution events are so meaningful for volunteers and families alike,” says Ellie Zuehlke, director, Community Benefit & Engagement. “Seeing kids light up when they choose their new bikes really connects the action of giving to the happiness it brings to their lives.”
That's the story of Xumeing, 18, of St. Paul. “This is my first bike,” he says. “I hope to become more self-sufficient by riding my bike to school.” He was happy to be celebrating his birthday by picking out a bike. "This is a little present for me,” Xumeing says with a smile.
Thank you to all of the volunteers who donated their time and efforts for this and other Free Bikes 4 Kidz events this year - your generosity has touched the lives of many families.
2012 bike giveaway
Bikes collected at 48 Allina Health locations filled two warehouses in Hopkins and Maplewood. The bikes were cleaned, repaired and refurbished before being distributed with helmets and bike safety information to needy children.
More than 5,300 bikes collected
On Saturday, October 13, rain didn't dampen the mood for 800 volunteers at 48 Allina Health locations where community members came to donate used or new bikes. More than 5,300 bikes were collected.
"It is amazing to see how many Allina Health employees volunteered for this event," said Ellie Zuehlke, director of Community Benefit and Engagement. "Because of our collective efforts, more than 5,000 children will have a bike of their own this holiday season."
One woman took three trips to deliver six bikes that she couldn't fit in her compact car.
An elderly man dropped off one of the oldest bikes donated. Although he commented that it had traveled many miles, it was in pristine shape. He watched as it was wheeled away and confirmed that it would go to a good home.
Allina Health received the Community Benefit Award (large hospital category) for its investment in the Free Bikes 4 Kidz program and encouraging physical activity, supporting healthful eating, and maintaining a balanced life.
By the end of the day, the bike donations filled two warehouses in Hopkins and Maplewood. The bikes were cleaned, repaired and refurbished before being distributed with helmets and bike safety information to children in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Bikes were distributed during the first two weeks of December.
Bike donation 2012
About 800 volunteers at 48 Allina Health locations received more than 5,300 bikes on Saturday, Oct. 13 for Free Bikes 4 Kidz. Most volunteers were Allina Health employees, many of whom will continue to volunteer to spruce up the bikes between now and early December when they'll be given away. 12 News was at the collection warehouse when the bikes were coming in from the donation sites.
Allina Health Cardiologist Nick Burke and Free Bikes 4 Kidz Executive Director Terry Esau talked with KARE11's Diana Piercea about the October 13 bike drop-off day at 48 Allina Health clinic and hospital locations.
2011 bike giveaway
Volunteers at Allina Health St. Michael Clinic load donated bikes onto a truck rented for the occasion.
December 10, 2011: Bike distribution
Allina Health worked with community partners to identify kids in need. Twenty Allina Health sites hosted this special giveaway event.
Nearly 5,000 bikes were given away in 2011 -- more than double the 1,200 distributed in 2010.
During the statewide giveaway, Allina Health provided free helmets and concussion information to all who receive bikes. The concussion information included copies of "Always Wear Your Helmet," a bike helmet safety video featuring Ben Utecht, former Minnesota Gopher and Super Bowl champion.
November 2011: Bike cleanup and repair
Allina Health employees, physicians and local partners volunteered time and expertise to refurbish bikes for their new owners. Volunteers included novices who cleaned bicycles and filled tires and mechanics who repaired bikes and did safety checks.
Free Bikes for Kidz accepted bikes at more than 20 locations throughout the Twin Cities metro area. To find the bike collection location nearest you, go to fb4k.com/donate.
October 2011: Bike collection day
On Saturday, October 22, Allina Health made 51 hospital and clinic locations drop-off sites for donated bicycles. The collection garnered between 3,500 and 4,000 bikes according to Free Bikes for Kidz Executive Director Terry Esau.
"We were up until 2 a.m. getting bikes into our Hopkins warehouse," Esau said. "We estimate we have over 3,000 bikes here and another 700 to 800 bikes in our east side warehouse."
"More than 400 volunteers helped make this day a huge success," said Aimee Pappenfuss, volunteerism program manager, Allina Health.
Comments like these show how the day was much more than an afternoon of volunteering:
A man pulled up to the drop-off location at Cambridge Medical Center and unloaded four brand new bicycles still in boxes. When asked if he would like a t-shirt or donation receipt, the man replied, "You people are doing a good thing here. I just wanted to do a good thing, too."
My two sons came with and helped volunteer, and that was an opportunity all on its own. My children were able to see that yes, there are people less fortunate than us, and that we made a difference in their lives by giving a little of their time!
A gentleman was visiting a patient... without being asked, he helped load all the bikes, followed me to Hopkins to unload trucks and then came with to make a pick up at a clinic. He refused an offer to pay for gas for his truck. He gave up his entire Saturday to help a cause he knew nothing about a few hours before.
Bike donation 2011
Ellie Zuehlke, director of community benefit and engagement, explains why Allina Health decided to round up, repair and give bikes - and bike helmets - to 5,000 children.
Bike distribution 2011
Across the Twin Cities metro, greater Minnesota and western Wisconsin, thousands of kids from families in need received free bikes in December 2011. One of the dozens of sites that the kids and their families picked up the bikes was WestHealth in Plymouth, Minnesota.