This year, children and teenagers from the Ventura area who have been signed up through The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program are going to find something special under their tree. For between fifty and sixty of them, they are going to see a gleaming, completely refurbished like-new bike courtesy of the HUB Community Bike Shop in Ventura.
The HUB Bike Shop is a program of VCCool, a local climate change grassroots non-profits with the mission to get as many people riding bikes instead of cars as feasible. This mission, intersected this Christmas season with The Salvation Army in Ventura’s mission to get as many gifts into the hands of as many children as possible.
Taking bikes that had been returned to Target for a variety of reasons such as missing parts, damage, or just a return, the HUB Bike Shop, working in tandem with the Ventura Corps has been donating hundreds of man-hours of donated bike mechanic time to take these bikes from the land of forgotten toys, and through their care and expertise, making them new again and ready them for some deserving boy or girl when the Ventura Corps has its Toy Distributions on December 21 and 22.
“We want to get people out of cars and onto bikes, and if we can start that process early, with kids, then we will be making great progress,” said Toby Smith, a professional bike mechanic and volunteer at VCCool since 2008. “To be able to provide these bikes to kids who would otherwise not be able to afford a bike, is what our organization and The Salvation Army is all about.”
The bike program isn’t just about Christmas time either. Adults who have encountered The Salvation Army in Ventura, especially through its homeless outreach and support program of Homeless 2 Home, are sometimes offered available bikes in order to have some modicum of transportation. These bikes, provided by the HUB Community Bike Shop can make the difference between a person getting to a job interview and beginning a fresh start to their life.
Ventura Corps officer Lt. Fabio Simoes envisions the relationship with HUB Bike Shop growing along with his Ventura Corps as his outreach to the community continues to expand. “Cooperative relationships like the one we enjoy with the HUB Community Bike Shop make it possible for The Salvation Army to serve more people in Ventura,” Lt. Simoes added. “And for that we are truly thankful.”