Sam Shiel wiggled a green handlebar into the socket of a glistening Huffy bicycle. He was almost finished assembling the child-sized bike from a box of metal parts and paper directions.
“My favorite thing is building the bike and getting to see the kids’ faces when they see the bikes,” said Shiel, a fifth-grade student at Summit View Elementary School.
Shiel and 87 other fifth-graders spent the morning of May 9 behind Summit View Elementary School building 51 bikes that would be given as a surprise to kindergarten students of Sedalia Elementary School later that day.
The community service project reflects the school’s emphasis on character, service and impact, said fifth-grade teacher Jill Sinclair.
“We wanted to find a way to make an impact without just donating funds,” she said.
Summit View students raised $5,100 from local businesses to purchase the bikes.
Wish for Wheels, a nonprofit organization based out of Denver that gives new bicycles and helmets to kids in low-income communities, delivered the disassembled bikes in dozens of cardboard boxes.
Wish for Wheels’ mission is to change a child’s life with the gift of a bike, said Chris Webster, the nonprofit’s build-and-give manager. Owning a bike gives kids a sense of responsibility and freedom and creates a healthier lifestyle, he said.
“Getting your first bike is something you remember,” Webster said.
The bikes were gifted to Sedalia Elementary School because of its students’ financial situations — about 50 percent qualify for free and reduced lunch, according to Douglas County School District.
Summit View students formed relationships with Sedalia kindergarteners in the weeks leading up to the bike surprise. They chatted by video, wrote letters and met each other in person three times.
“They see that kids in need are not just a number,” Sinclair said. “They have personalities and are just like other kids.”
The fifth-grade students spent about an hour assembling the bikes from bolts, screws parts and pieces. Decorated with ribbons and bows, each finished product had a nametag and handwritten note.
“I’m really excited — I love helping people,” student Karter Schwartzkopf said behind a smile. “Our fifth-grade crew is positive and knows how to work together.”