By Emma Woodham for The Island Eye News
Sarah Quinn, a resident of Johns Island, is no average fourteen-year-old student. For the past three years, she has been working closely with the Charleston chapter of Bicycles for Humanity, raising money and collecting bikes that are then shipped to African communities in need.
Quinn, a rising ninth-grader at Porter-Gaud School, first heard about Bicycles for Humanity when she started middle school. The grassroots organization was formed in 2005 and now has over thirty chapters across the world, and Chris Tate, Dean of Students at Porter-Gaud, is the founder of the local chapter in Charleston.
“When I first entered middle school, I heard about this international charity, Bicycles for Humanity. This service project stood out to me not only because of the tangibility of the bikes themselves, but because Dean Tate started the Charleston chapter,” Quinn said.
Once the bikes are donated and broken down for shipping, they are loaded into a shipping container. The most challenging task facing the organization is raising funds for the used shipping containers and the shipping costs.
“The used shipping containers cost around $2500, and the cost of shipping the container to the small, remote villages is between $6000 and $7000. But once the container arrives, it is turned into a bike shop,” Quinn said.
The bikes are collected, shipped to Africa, and given to families in an effort to provide transportation. For these recipients, the bikes mean mobility, transportation to school, and access to food, water, and healthcare. Bicycles for Humanity has partners in Africa who distribute the bikes and transform the emptied shipping container into a Bicycle Empowerment Center, a place where they can educate recipients on the proper maintenance for the bikes.
An anonymous donor from Kiawah Island recently offered to match up to $5000 in donations for Bicycles for Humanity, and Quinn hopes to match his offer through other donations. These funds will be instrumental in covering the shipping costs needed to send the next container of bikes to Africa.
“I am truly amazed by this individual, and I cannot even begin to thank them enough,” Quinn said.
Quinn says the local chapter of Bicycles for Humanity has more than enough bicycles right now, but they desperately need donations to help fund the cost of transporting the bikes to Africa. She is grateful for the anonymous donor and for the continued support she has received from her local community. During Quinn’s time working with the organization, over nine-hundred bikes have been donated, and she attributes much of that to the kindness of others.
“Words can’t even describe how supportive and wonderful the local community has been, and I am truly grateful for everyone and all they have done to help me and the organization. This experience has really opened my eyes to the generosity around me,” Quinn said.
Anyone wishing to donate bicycles or funds to the Charleston chapter of Bicycles for Humanity, can visit B4HCharleston.org or find them on Facebook. Pick-up is available for any bikes you wish to donate.