BURLINGTON, Vt. (WFFF) — A Vermont nonprofit is collecting bikes and sewing machines to send to developing countries. Pedals for Progress Vermont has already shipped some 4,200 bikes.
That’s according to volunteer Paul Demers. “Vermont bikes have gone to Tanzania and Nicaragua,” he says. “Sewing machines have gone to Fiji and Albania.” He has volunteered with the group for 20 years, and says the goal of each shipment is “to ship as many as you can.”
“We flip the bike over, turn the handlebars, so they take up as little space as possible,” Demers says. “Tighten the seat, and it’s ready to go.”
Demers said the bikes can help in many ways. “If you are a health care worker—if you are going from a village and you can get on this mountain bike,” Demers said. “Suddenly your capabilities to reach out to people are not doubled, but they are quadrupled.”
Pedals for Progress Vermont also plans to send sewing machines to help provide economic opportunities. “If you can imagine a sewing machine for a struggling family can help provide an income, otherwise they are struggling to feed themselves,” says Bob Thompson, another volunteer and former Peace Corps volunteer.
“I have seen the conditions that they have to live in and transportation is something that we take for granted here,” Thompson said. “And it’s not something that is always available there.”
Demers says it’s fulfilling to know household items we may take for granted will make a difference elsewhere. “Sometimes just doing a little bit over years, really adds up to a lot.”
Pedals for Progress Vermont collected bikes on Friday and Saturday in Montpelier and Burlington. Everyone who donates a bike or sewing machine was asked to give $15 to help pay for shipping.