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Fixing up bikes for kids

A Park Hills business owner and children’s minister is asking for volunteers to come out Sunday afternoon to fix donated bicycles to give out to local children’s homes.

James Whaley, owner of J&M Auto and long-time children’s minister at Faith Family Worship Center in Fredericktown, wants to provide bicycles for children placed in the homes that might not otherwise have a bicycle to use while living there.

“This Sunday at 12:30 p.m. we are having a bicycle workday at our church to provide bicycles for local kids’ homes,” he said. “We have five kids’ homes and a sixth one going in at Poplar Bluff. We’re going to be in the gym.”

According to Whaley, this is the second time he has held a bicycle workday at the church.

“The first time we did it, we fixed all their bikes at one of the homes — and it was about 25 bikes,” he said. “What we found was that their bikes were in really bad shape — and it was their personal bikes. So, whenever they leave, they take their bikes with them. There’s a lot of kids that didn’t have bikes and we’re wanting to, probably not so much let the kids take the bikes with them but provide bikes that will stay at the homes for the kids to be able to ride.”

Whaley came up with the idea of holding bicycle workdays when he saw the need.

“Because I’m the children’s minister at the church, I know about the situation,” he said. “They need something to get their energy out — they’ve got a lot of energy! It’s a really good thing and we had a pretty good turnout of men at the church last time coming out and helping. We also had some people from outside the church who came.

“The first time we held a workday, the scrap place on St. Joe Drive donated some bicycle parts and so, they’ve been a part of it. We had thought the bikes belonged to the homes and we found out they weren’t, and the homes needed bicycles. So, we collected a few. I bought a couple at auction. The people at the auction asked, ‘Why are you buying bikes?’ and I told them and said we were going to buy them as we need them.”

Whaley bought five or six bicycles and the rest were donated.

“It’s amazing how many people have donated bikes and it’s all been word of mouth,” he said. “We got a lot of bikes and some bike parts.”

Asked how long he’s served as children’s minister at Faith Family, Whaley did some calculations in his head and said he had held the position for more than 20 years.

“I haven’t kept track,” he said, laughing. “Sometimes I feel almost too old to be doing it, but then the Lord breathes new life into me.”

And how have the children responded to the bicycles being brought to the children’s homes?

“They loved it,” he said. “I mean, their bikes were all broke. They had flat tires and what not. We got a lot of bigger bikes. What we’re needing is some smaller bikes.

“If somebody has a bike they would like to donate, they can bring it over to J&M Auto at 808 E. Main St. or call me at 573-327-9474. It doesn’t matter what shape they’re in. We’ve got people who’ve just brought frames by — but if those frames have good pedals on them, we can use for a bike. The bikes are made so cheap, the pedals wear out. It’s amazing what people have brought by for us.”

Whaley said he’s planning on this to be a continuing ministry and additional workdays will be planned in the future.

“This is the deal — we are probably only going to have enough bikes for two homes right now,” he said. “We’ve got one house that has 5 year olds in it and honestly I would really like them to be the house bikes, but if a kid leaves, I’d like them to be able to take a bike with them. That’s a long-term goal, though.”

“We had thought the bikes belonged to the homes and we found out they weren’t, and the homes needed bicycles.” — James Whaley

James Whaley, owner of J&M Auto in Park Hills, stands around a bunch of bicycles that have been donated to be given to local children's homes. He will be holding a bicycle workday at Faith Family Worship Center in Fredericktown at 12:30 p.m. Sunday and encourages volunteers to drop by and help. There is also a need for bicycles that can be used by smaller children.

James Whaley, owner of J&M Auto in Park Hills, stands around a bunch of bicycles that have been donated to be given to local children’s homes. He will be holding a bicycle workday at Faith Family Worship Center in Fredericktown at 12:30 p.m. Sunday and encourages volunteers to drop by and help. There is also a need for bicycles that can be used by smaller children.

Kevin Jenkins is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-518-3614 or kjenkins@dailyjournalonline.com

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