This is what #VenturaStrong looks like

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On January 28th, Giant Bicycles and BikeVentura distributed 120 brand-new bikes to Thomas Fire Victims for free. Over 50 volunteers came out to help build all of the bikes that morning, and recipients of the bikes were overjoyed. The Channel Islands Bicycle Club (CIBike) also donated and distributed free lights and helmets to people who lost their homes in the fire. There were volunteers from REI, Giant Bikes, Open Air Bike Shop, Totally Local VC, Ventura County, McConnells Ice Cream, the 805 Chromies and Square Wheels bike clubs, CIBike, The Ventura Bike Depot and The Ventura Bike HUB.

Giant, headquartered in Newbury Park, is donating 200 Momentum iWant Park bikes total, and they needed a local non-profit to help connect the bikes to the impacted community. Patrick Van Horn, Giant’s digital media producer, called BikeVentura to facilitate the bike build and giveaway at the Ventura Bike HUB, a do-it-yourself bike repair shop and bike “thrift store”. Toby, our shop manager and I looked at our new space and wondered, “How are we going to fit 200 bikes in here??” But we knew it was the right thing to do for the community.

Here are some snippets of gratitude from the community:

“I am just one of the many who lost my home in the Thomas Fire.  This event was a big shining light that provided so many smiles to residents effected by the fire.  We visited and made new friends while in attendance…we were greeted by all of you with such warmth and kindness….and then we left with a wonderful new bike, helmet and lights.  We made the comment that it was like being a little kid and Christmas waking up to a new bike.”

“We drove through our neighborhood and the horror and feelings of loss again washed over us. We returned to our friends’ home where we are staying temporarily until we find a rental. We were exhausted from the roller coaster of emotions of Sunday. Then Jeff went to you and met your volunteers and got a black bicycle and a bike helmet… Thank you for doing this. In addition to good will and kindness, you shared hope and faith with us and with all of the other recipients.”

PHOTOS BY RON PARKER