Three hundred children will receive a brand new bicycle for Christmas this year, thanks to a record-breaking annual bike-donation initiative sponsored by Clifton Park-based garbage and recycling company County Waste.
Employees at County Waste spent part of the day on Wednesday assembling the bikes that will donated to some of the Capital Region's most needy children.
County Waste is owned by Waste Connections, a national firm that launched the now-annual bike-building event five years ago as part of its “Christmas Promise” program, which distributes the bikes and helmets to charities.
County Waste has donated a total of 700 bikes to various groups over the years, including the Troy Boys and Girls Club, In Our Own Voices and local churches. Last year, the company assembled 211 bikes.
This year, the new bikes will be delivered to six local organizations: Parson’s Early Learning, Mechanicville Area Community Center, Things of My Very Own in Schenectady, Troy Boys and Girls Club, Circles of Mercy in Rensselaer, and Christ Episcopal Church in Ballston Spa.
Employees — there are 200 at the Clifton Park location — donate money to buy the bikes, and the company matches the amount raised. County Waste also accepts outside donations for the project.
After the bicycles are purchased, employees take some time during the day, either coming in before a shift or donating time later on, to unpack the bike parts, assemble them and test them. Later this week and early next week, the bikes will be shipped to area charities and churches.
The number of bikes donated through the program has grown each year, starting at 50 bikes in 2012.
Most of the bikes are meant to be “first-time” bikes for young children, and they come in a range of colors — those assembled this year were pink and green and yellow.
However, County Waste has also received requests to buy bikes that would be suitable for older children. Those bikes often go to children in foster care who might not have been able to take their old bikes with them when they moved. Last year, there were two larger mountain bikes assembled, as well.
"At County Waste, an important part of our mission is to engage with and contribute to the communities we serve and are part of,” said Mark Ceresa, Division Vice President of County Waste. “Our team is pleased to provide holiday cheer to 300 children this season and we look forward to continuing this tradition in the future.”
“In the season of giving, we are honored to take a moment to make an impact on a child’s holiday,” said Rohannah Abzal, office manager at County Waste. “Our employees are members of the communities we serve, and we’re proud to help our neighbors and work with so many community partners to help us make wishes come true."