Homeless to benefit from Seven Hills bike donations, free repairs | TheUnion.com

Homeless to benefit from Seven Hills bike donations, free repairs

Stephen Roberson
Staff Writer

Saturday is a special day for Steve Davis' Seven Hills Intermediate School students.

The kids, in grades 5-8, get to show off their skills and learn a little bit about life.

It's all part of Seven Hills' Bicycle Recycle Project, launched in 1998 and founded by Davis. The program teaches students mechanical skills while giving them a taste of service and charity.

The latter qualities will be on display on Saturday at Loaves and Fishes in Sacramento. Students will spend the morning hosting a bike clinic, where they will repair bikes and mingle with the city's homeless.

Homeless people then receive a lunch ticket with a number. Students grab the bike they've been working on, one of 80 the school has already brought down to Sacramento, during the school year and numbers are called. Whoever has the lunch ticket with the winning number gets the bike.

"It's really cool, because the person who's taken ownership over the bike through the building process gets to close the loop and see who it is that's going to receive it," Davis said. "And the homeless people are so appreciative."

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Loaves and Fishes, which is dedicated to feeding and caring for homeless people, has hosted Seven Hills for the past 17 years. The organization, and the homeless folks it cares for, gets a lot out of the annual event.

So do the kids.

"The kids are rubbing shoulders with some really gnarly homeless people with tattoos and (wild hair)," Davis said. "But all that has to happen is (the kids) extend their hand and say, 'I'm here to help you with your bike, what do you need?' And everything just kind of melts away. It's a remarkable experience."

Both Tyler Frandsen and Roland Betito have experienced the Loaves and Fishes trip. This is the second such outing for the Seven Hills sixth-graders.

"My favorite part was giving the bikes to the people because they looked extremely happy," Frandsen said.

Betito established a bond with the homeless person his bike went to.

"The guy we built the bike for was really nice and kind of funny," he said. "It didn't surprise me. He looked like a nice, funny guy."

Davis said the annual event is empowering for his young students.

"The most common response from kids who come back from Loaves and Fishes is, 'It was fun.' Part of the fun is being able to show these adults, 'I know something about bikes.' That's powerful," he said. "With a skill they've learned and can apply now, that's a cool experience."

To contact Staff Writer Stephen Roberson, email sroberson@theunion.com or call 530-477-4236.

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