Hundreds of families each year turn to Augusta Urban Ministries for housing, food, clothing, furniture and utilities assistance. It’s a vital line between the area’s most needy, and its most needed resources. MCG Public Safety is helping with one of the organization’s lesser known programs: a ministry that distributes used bicycles.
“I’ve got about 20 people on a waiting list to get a bike,” said Rick Herring, program director. “We provide them to people who need them for basic transportation – people who are not on the bus line or can’t afford bus tickets – to get a job or keep a job.”
Major Gene Maxwell, assistant chief of police, got involved with the organization last year when his wife, Jill, brought him down to volunteer in taking applications for holiday assistance.
“It just made me feel good. And watching some of the young kids who were there that day – it renewed my faith in the next generation. Sometimes in this business you can get a little jaded,” he said.
So when it came time to clean out their confiscations, Maxwell saw the bikes and thought of the people who needed the community’s help the most.
Public Safety has come by their stash of bikes honestly, he said. Their previous owners? Perhaps not.
“Sometimes we’ll stop someone and they’ll jump off a bike and run,” Maxwell said.
Often the bikes were stolen property to begin with. But sometimes the officers will find a bicycle inappropriately secured – say, to fencing around one of the memorial gardens on campus – and they will confiscate it until the owner comes to claim it. But after 90 days, if no one returns for them, a judge allows them to dispose of the property.
Herring is happy to have them. “With the economy, we just haven’t had enough donated bikes. In addition, we’ve got about 100 bikes that need to be worked on, but we don’t have enough volunteers to work on them. Bikes that are in good shape are hard to come by,” Herring said.
Public Safety donates bicycles a couple of times a year, Maxwell said. But the ministry also needs mattresses, box springs, bed frames, and new, unwrapped gifts for children of all ages.
To volunteer with Augusta Urban Ministries, call 706-722-8195 or visit augusta.actionministries.net. To contact Public Safety about a missing bicycle, call 706-721-2911.