Charity now taking bicycle donations

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Food and toy drives are standard fare this time of year, but the Samaritan House says bicycles are often an overlooked way to make a family’s holiday.

The San Mateo-based nonprofit health and human services agency is calling out to local residents for used and new bicycles to give as gifts for children and adults served by the organization.

Samaritan House has pulled in as many as 200 bicycles in holidays past, but took in only approximately 75 last year, according to Sharon Petersen, director of program operations for Samaritan House. The nonprofit hopes to come back strong this year with at least 200 bicycle donations.

The only requirement is that the bicycles be in good working order.

“Bicycles can be very expensive, and for families who worry about where they are going to buy food or pay the electric bill, even a $25 bike at the thrift shop might be out of reach,” Petersen said. “I know I had a lot of joy as a kid on my bicycle and I think all children should get to experience that.”

Steve Van Der Lip, head of the Peninsula Bicycle and Pedestrian Coalition, said fellow riding enthusiasts often have old bikes stowed away. He, for example, recently gave away 10 extra ones he had lying around.

“It’s definitely a good idea,” Van Der Lip said.

Petersen estimates her agency hands out food and toys to approximately 1,100 families — who sign up beforehand for the program — representing between 4,300 and 4,500 people. Of that figure, there are usually 1,800 children in the holiday program from ages 2 to 16.

Last year, Samaritan House collected approximately 400,000 pounds of food, a figure that has been steadily growing each year, and at least 40,000 new toys for the holiday program. The 23rd Marine Regiment in San Bruno has offered to help the organization with the toy drive, a partnership that Petersen hopes will net even more gifts.

Donors should bring bicycles to the San Mateo Event Center, located at 2495 S. Delaware St. in San Mateo by Dec. 15.

For more information, call Michelle Canning at (650) 341-4081, ext. 33, or visit www.samaritanhouse.com. The distribution days will be Wednesday, Dec. 20 through Friday, Dec. 22.

tramroop@examiner.com

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