11/30/06 — Making sure needy children have bikes

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Making sure needy children have bikes

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on November 30, 2006 1:46 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Santa's workshop has nothing on the men at First Baptist Church in Mount Olive.

This is their busy season, too.

Church members Mike Saviak, Wayne Gardner and Terry Whaley rebuild old bicycles for children all year long in the Royal Ambassadors Hut behind the church building on North Chestnut Street. They provide bicycles to orphans and any local child who asks for one. Teens older than 16 are not left out, either, but they have to lend a hand at the shop to get their new ride.

"And I'm choosy about who gets to come in and help," Saviak said.

He said the men try to get together at least two times a week throughout the year, but they really go to work just before the Christmas season begins. The men tear down the bicycles and rebuild them. Bicycle World gives the men a discount on any parts they need.

"They ride better when we get through with them than when they came out of the factory," Saviak said.

The Baptist men also receive good-as-new bicycles from the Mount Olive Police Department when recovered stolen bikes go unclaimed.

Most bicycles that go out of the shop are 16-inch and 20-inch. The 13-year-olds can handle the big ones, Gardner said while he stroked a metal wheel with a wire brush. The rust was slow coming off at first, but when he was done, the wheel shined.

Gardner said the bicycle shop sent 35 bikes in a U-Haul truck to Arkansas last year. Bicycles also have gone to several orphanages in years past.

This year, he said, six bicycles will go to children in town.

Several also will head to Goldsboro.

Gardner said the men get their referrals from teachers and others who let them know of children who need bicycles.

They also keep a few in reserve, just in case they get a call from a charity or other group.

Neither of the men could say how long they have been rebuilding bicycles.

"When it first started (the Baptist men) were looking for a project. I said, 'Why don't you fix bicycles for kids.' And they've been doing it ever since," Saviak said.

They know the reason they keep going, though.

"We do things for young-uns. That's all there is to it," he added.