A Vermont non-profit is collecting bikes and sewing machines and sending them to developing countries.
Pedals for Progress Vermont has shipped some 4,200 bikes, said volunteer Paul Demers. “Vermont bikes have gone to Tanzania and Nicaragua,” he said. “Sewing machines have gone to Fiji and Albanian.”
Demers, who has volunteered with the group for 20 years, said the goal of each shipment is “to ship as many as you can.
“We flip the bike over, turn the handlebars, so they take up as little space as possible,” he said. “Tighten the seat, and it’s ready to go.”
Demers said the bikes can help in various ways.
“Here is an example, if you are a healthcare worker, if you are going from a village and you can get on this mountain bike,” Demers said. “Suddenly your capabilities to reach out to people are not doubled but they are quadrupled.”
Pedals for Progress Vermont also plans to send sewing machines to help provide economic opportunities.
“If you can imagine a sewing machine for a struggling family can help provide an income, otherwise they are struggling to feed themselves,” volunteer Bob Thompson said.
Thompson is a former Peace Corps volunteer.
“I have seen the conditions that they have to live in and transportation is something that we take for granted here,” Thompson said. “And it’s not something that is always available there.”
Demers said it’s fulfilling to know household items we may take for granted will make a difference elsewhere.
“Sometimes just doing a little bit over years, really adds up to a lot,” Demers said.
Pedals for Progress Vermont is collecting bikes from 3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at National Life in Montpelier and from rom 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m Saturday at the Burton store in Burlington’s South End.
Everyone who donates a bike or sewing machine is asked to give $15 to help pay for shipping.