Photo by Jesse Burkhardt
A team of volunteers from the Wasco County Landfill displays some of the many bicycles they put together on Friday. Left to right are landfill employees Charles Van, Jeremy Fink, Norberto Barajas, Wesley Stuck, Bill Russell, Rodan Atchley, Micki Krueger, and John Parke.
Kevin Green, a district manager with The Dalles Disposal, is putting on a different hat this month. It’s a Santa Claus hat because, with Christmas coming soon, Green is working to produce a big sack of goodies he plans to hand out to youngsters around the local community.
The sack will need to be an extra large one, as Green is helping to organize an operation that will make gifts of dozens of bicycles for boys and girls around the community.
“We’ve done this before here and there, but are ramping it up this year. We’ll have a full-blown bike-build of 40-50 bikes,” Green said.
Green said giving away bikes to make the holidays happier for some local kids is something The Dalles Disposal and Hood River Garbage Service are jointly coordinating this year.
“We have the same parent company, Waste Connections,” Green said.
Waste Connections, based in Texas, has done bike giveaways before, but this December the company is taking it to a completely different level. According to Green, he and fellow district manager Jim Winterbottom of Hood River Garbage purchased dozens of bikes through WalMart in Hood River. The bikes are a mix of boys’ and girls’ bikes in a variety of sizes.
According to Green, Waste Connections employees around the area made donations to purchase the bicycles. The company raised approximately $3,000, with 100 percent of the money going to buying bikes and bike helmets.
“We get employee donations, which are matched dollar for dollar by corporate,” Green said. “We’ve raised enough for 40 to 50 bikes, and helmets also. We buy brand new bikes.”
Green pointed out that the bikes come unassembled, but he has an army of “elves” who will take care of that: about 40 employees from the area’s disposal companies volunteered their time last Thursday evening to put all the bikes together at The Dalles Disposal facility on West First Street.
“We have been looking forward to it,” Green said. “We do this company-wide, all over the country.”
Linda Miller, who works for Wasco County Landfill — which is also under the Waste Connections corporate umbrella —stepped up to volunteer to help put together the bicycles.
Miller, who also serves as a member of The Dalles City Council, said she is proud of the company for being so generously involved with the bike giveaway.
“I have been proud and supportive of Waste Connections for more than just this event,” Miller said. “The company is involved in community activities when employees ask for company involvement. The landfill has supported ball teams, the wrestling club, and fundraising drives such as Girl Scout cookies. An employee's daughter is raising funds now for the music department of the middle school, so we are selling candy bars and pepperoni sticks at the scale.”
Miller pointed out that the company encourages its employees to get involved with community service.
“I can attest to that,” Miller said. “I will be involved with bike assembly, as will most of the employees and some of their kids.”
Once assembled, the bikes will be given to charities throughout Wasco and Hood River counties for distribution to families around the community. The Salvation Army in The Dalles will distribute its share of the bikes in Wasco County, while United Way will do so for Hood River County.
“The bikes will stay in Wasco County or Hood River County,” Green said. “That’s important for us.”
Maj. Elaine Wildman, a corps officer for Salvation Army in The Dalles, said this is the first time the Salvation Army has been the recipient of bikes from The Dalles Disposal. She pointed out that the children getting the bikes come from low-income families living in the area.
“We will receive the bicycles from The Dalles Disposal, assign them to specific children that requested them, and give them to the parents on Dec. 20, which is our ‘Christmas Distribution Day,’” Wildman said. “We will make every attempt to match bicycles by size and gender.”
Wildman added that the Salvation Army as an organization is deeply appreciative of the donations of bicycles.
“We are very grateful to The Dalles Disposal in selecting us as this year's recipient,” Wildman said. “The generosity of others makes a lifelong impression on the children who receive these bikes. I believe it encourages them to become more compassionate and giving as adults.”
Wildman said she has heard stories from many people about how the Salvation Army helped them when they were children.
“And now they want to do the same for another needy child,” she said.
Green said the program is very gratifying because it brings joy to the youngsters.
“You see some really happy kids,” Green said. “If we can do that for kids in the local areas, I’m all for it.”