For many, a bike is more than just an opportunity for relaxation and fun. A bike is a lifeline to prosperity and independence.

In 1991, Pedals for Progress, a non-profit organization in New Jersey, was founded to help communities in dozens of developing countries. “The program takes bikes and sewing machines destined for the landfill or scrap heap and turns them into valuable transportation and income for people who otherwise have nothing,” explained Bob Thompson, a Fairfax Council Knight of Columbus and member of St. Luke Parish.

Eight years ago Thompson organized a local collection of bikes and sewing machines through the Fairfax Council. The effort was taken up by K of C Councils in Milton, Essex and Swanton, among others.

Recently, 138 bikes and 115 sewing machines were collected, destined for Albania and Sierra Leone, along with $2,500 to help defray the high cost of shipping overseas.

A $10 donation is requested with each item donated, if possible. “Parishioners, brother Knights and others have generously donated funds to make up the short fall,” Thompson said.

Volunteers from Rice Memorial High School in South Burlington assisted with processing the collection and loading a truck from FedEx which delivers to Pedals for Progress without charge.

“The volunteers were a tremendous help; we could not have done it without them!” Thompson said.

— Originally published in the Winter 2020 issue of Vermont Catholic magazine.