2005-06-09 / Front Page

South Brunswick collects 168 bikes for charity


Staff Writer

SOUTH BRUNSWICK — Pedals for Progress, a charitable program created to collect and ship bicycles to economically disadvantaged countries, completed a successful drive last week at South Brunswick High School.

Volunteers collected 168 bikes along with over $1,700 in donations, according to event organizer and South Brunswick High School math teacher Larry Witlen.

“I’m thrilled,” Witlen said of the hard work put in by volunteers and the amount of money donated to Pedals for Progress.

Members of the Viking Volunteers pitched in to help with the drive, the fifth of its kind in South Brunswick.

“They worked their hearts out,” Witlen said.

Volunteers helped prepare bikes for shipping by compacting them, a tough physical job, according to Witlen.

Pedals for Progress, an initiative first begun by a Peace Corps volunteer, was brought to New Jersey by Witlen, also a former Peace Corps member. Not thrilled with the amount of U.S. foreign aid, Witlen said that instead of complaining about it, he went out privately to do something about it.

Witlen started the drive in the high school as well as in North Brunswick. According to Witlen, residents of economically disadvantaged countries who owned bicycles were better off than others in the area.

Nearly 70 countries receive donations from Pedals for Progress, with an estimated 12,000 bikes shipped a year, according to Witlen.

Witlen said he was pleased at the commitment made by those who donated, particularly those residents who are first-generation and may see bicycles go back to their home countries.

Pedals for Progress, Witlen said, provides donors with a tangible way to see aid go to foreign countries.

The bikes collected have been sent to storage trailers and are awaiting shipments to countries in need, according to Witlen.

Various Pedals for Progress events are scheduled throughout New Jersey in June. Lists of collection locations and dates are listed at the Pedals for Progress Web site at www.p4p.org. Individuals can also contact Larry Witlen at (732) 329-4044, ext. 7102, for information on South Brunswick collections.

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