Goodwill on wheels

  • Caleb Loehrer / The Garden Island

    Jim Benkert looks over some of the bikes donated by citizens since a theft of four from his carport that were to be donated to the YWCA.

LIHUE — Residents, after reading in The Garden Island about stolen bicycles that were set aside for donation to the YWCA, donated nearly 20 old bikes in a three-day span.

“It looks like a bike store in my carport right now,” Benkert said. “It gladdens my heart that people from all over the island came together like this.”

He has received donations from all over the island and even got a phone call from a man in Colorado asking how he could help.

“It really makes us feel good,” he said.

Last Thursday night, Jim Benkert’s carport had eight bikes in it. On Friday morning, he was down to four. Someone had stolen half of the bicycles he and Briggs Knott, owner of Briggs Bikes, had spent months collecting, cleaning and refurbishing so they could donate them to the YWCA on Elua Street.

Monday was supposed to be their second delivery to the YWCA, with the bikes bound for the county’s homeless and bikeless population.

Benkert said he wasn’t angry as much as he was frustrated and discouraged at the prospect of having to wait for more usable bicycles to drift into the shop.

“We usually get a couple a month,” Benkert said.

But that changed Saturday, when people started showing up at the store with bicycles of all kinds to give away for free, and by Tuesday evening Benkert’s carport was packed.

Benkert and Knott plan to have four of the bicycles cleaned, fixed and ready to donate by the end of the week, along with the four child-sized bikes that weren’t stolen.

And now, with the YWCA’s needs met, they are looking for others who could use refurbished bikes. Benkert said he is keeping an eye out for any organization that works with the community and might know how to get the bikes to people that need them.

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Caleb Loehrer, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0441 or cloehrer@thegardenisland.com.

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