Santa’s Elves are everywhere and often pop up when you least expect them to! This couldn’t be more true than for the nonprofit The 100 Wheels Project.
During the 2007-08 financial crisis, Mike Dolan noticed that local nonprofits that usually provide holiday gifts to those in need were low on donations and financial contributions and were struggling to meet their holiday wish lists. He and his team of volunteers asked these local social service organizations what they could provide to help. The answer - bikes!
“We ended up donating 50 bikes that first year (thus, the ‘100 Wheels Project’),” said Dolan. “We gathered together with our staff and their families to assemble the bikes during a festive bike-building party and the tradition was born!”
Now in its 16th year, The 100 Wheels Project has built over 1,400 bikes! They now average over 100 bikes per year and rely on community support for donations. In addition to financial contributions to help purchase the bikes, members of the community also purchase bike helmets and locks.
When it comes to assembling the bikes, volunteers throughout the community gather together for one night at Pine Street Carpenters, Dolan’s daytime business. This build night has become a well-loved tradition for the Pine Street Carpenters staff and their families, clients, trade partners, and the biking community. They assemble over 100 bikes in a festive party atmosphere.
“What has been incredible to witness over the years is the power of a community working together to take care of those in need. From the non-profit agencies we work with to our staff and their families, from the scores of volunteers young and old who help us assemble the bikes to the clients and business partners who help support this initiative, this project has taken on a life of its own. In many ways, it has become the kick-off to the holiday season for many in the community – a holiday tradition of service,” said Dolan.
The 100 Wheels Project has expanded its donations beyond the West Chester area this year reaching as far as Norristown to supply bikes for kids ages 2 to 18.
“We partner with local non-profit organizations that provide critical services to families in the community. These non-profits work with the families and can identify children who could benefit from a brand new bike,” said Dolan. “Sadly, there is no lack of need.”
For the 2023 holiday season, the organization has partnered with The Care Center Foundation in West Chester, Family Service of Chester County, the Norristown Area School District, the Friends Association for the Care and Protection of Children in West Chester, Home of the Sparrow in Exton, St. Agnes Day Room in West Chester, People’s Pantry in Malvern, Kate’s Casa in Phoenixville, and Women Destined for Change in Coatesville. This has allowed the Project to reach more kids in more areas of need, which is the goal of Dolan and his volunteers.
If you would like to become involved with The 100 Wheels Project, either by donating to the cause or volunteering to help build a bike, reach out to Dolan and his team on their website at www.bikebuild.org.