With the holidays right around the corner, many children in the Helena area will be asking for a new bicycle for Christmas. But unfortunately, new bicycles don’t come cheap, especially when they are for children who will quickly grow out of them.

This year, one organization is trying to take the expense out of giving children the joy that comes with owning a bicycle. Queen City Wheelhouse will be hosting a donation drive Saturday, Dec. 9, from 12-4 p.m. and is asking for all of Helena’s used parts, frames and more to turn them into new bicycles for kids this Christmas.

One goal of the organization -- located in the MOP Shop on U.S. Highway 12 -- is to rehab old bicycles that may have previously been considered trash for use by future owners, and educate people about safe bicycle use and maintenance.

“You try to educate people about the value of bicycles as transportation and we try to keep as many bikes out of the landfill as possible and get them back out, as we say, to the wild,” said Roy Caldwell, “lead bike guy” at QCW.

This year for Christmas, he said their goal is to build as many bikes as they can out of donated bicycles and parts that will fit growing children. This way, they can be donated to families in need so parents don't have to worry about the financial strain of buying multiple new ones.

“They grow out of those bikes real fast, so it becomes a major economic stumbling block for parents to try to keep reinforcing that habit of self-transportation if they’re constantly having to buy bikes,” Caldwell said.

“So what we would like to do is try to make as many bikes that fit that growing standard,” he said.

The Wheelhouse was formed under the umbrella of the Montana Bicycle Guild. On Saturday, MBG President Eric Sivers and other volunteers gathered at the Wheelhouse for the first day of the bicycle drive to accept donations and build new bicycles out of them.

Sivers said he thinks the bike drive is a great way for families to save money on what would otherwise be an expensive gift.

“It’s a great idea to fix up bikes for kids for lower income families that don’t have the means to buy bicycles for kids,” Sivers said. “And we’re pretty happy to do that.”

Jeff Kuhn volunteered at the Wheelhouse Saturday to wrench bikes and help accept donations. He said he wanted to volunteer because he wants to “encourage kids to get out on bicycles.”

Recently, Helena was rated a Silver Level Ride Center by the International Mountain Biking Association, and Kuhn thinks it’s important for kids to learn the joys of biking at an early age.

“There are a lot of kids out there that need bikes,” Kuhn said. “We’re trying to make this more viable (for families).”

Also, he said, donating old bicycles and bike parts to Queen City Wheelhouse is a great way to reduce waste.

“It keeps bikes out of the scrap metal pile at the transfer station,” Kuhn said. “Repair them and get them back out on the streets.”

“They’re going to go back to the children that need them,” he said.

Matt Culpo was also out volunteering on Saturday. He said he's donating his time for what he thinks is a good cause. With more than 25 years of wrenching experience, he said he felt he was up for the job.

“It’s something I can do, I can help on,” he said. “I had a box of parts that I brought.”

“I decided to give up a little bit of a day to come do this instead of biking,” he said.

Queen City Wheelhouse will be receiving parts Saturday, Dec. 9, from 12-4 p.m., in the MOP Shop, 3790 W. U.S. Highway 12, with bicycle building scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. Any and all donations and volunteers are welcome.

Though Culpo may be a seasoned bike mechanic, Sivers said that, in order to come out and volunteer, there is “no wrenching experience required.”

For more information, call 465-6954 or email dave@queencitywheelhouse.com.

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