MUNDELEIN, Ill. — What was old is about to be new for hundreds of kids, as a shipping crate packed with generosity and a little love is making its way from the Chicagoland-area all the way to Africa.
The shipping crate — stuffed with bikes gathered in Mundelein — is off to its target destination of Lesotho, but one might ask, what does Mundelein have to do with Lesotho?
More than you might imagine at first.
It all began years ago at the Mundelein Police Department where, over time, abandoned or turned-in bicycles would accumulate in their evidence garage.
“We used to send the bikes to auction,” said Jason Seeley, Deputy Chief of Operations at Mundelein PD. “But then COVID hit, the auction shut down and we were trying to find a way that the bikes could be useful.”
That’s when their wheels started turning and a special idea began to culminate, leading to a partnership in the community.
“Bikes are great, right? Because [what] they do is spread joy,” said Trevor Clarke, Executive Director of Working Bikes. “When you’re on a bike, riding, you’re happier, interacting with your neighbors, getting where you need to go and it expands their sphere of access.”
Over the last 20-plus years, Clarke and the volunteer bicycle mechanics at Working Bikes have transformed more than 100,000 old bicycles into working sets of wheels and gifted them to people anywhere from Chicago to communities over seas.
So, when one Chicagoland police department with a few extra bikes on their hands met an organization who helps those in need of transportation around the world, it only made sense that a shipping crate of bicycles is now bound to Lesotho.
“It’s wonderful to be able to spread that love in Chicago and around the world,” Clarke said.
Mundelein PD said they hope to continue their partnership with Working Bikes in the future, and if you want to get in on supporting their work, you can visit Working Bikes’ website for more information on bike and financial donations.