REC for Kids directors Don Jones

Encouraging youth to get out and play

REC for Kids donates bikes, sports gear to children in need

The first thing you notice is the space, or lack thereof.

At REC For Kids – a non-profit, volunteer-run organization in Newton that collects and refurbishes bikes and sports equipment, then distributes it to children – nearly every inch of available real estate is piled high with sports equipment.

In what used to be the living room of the old, City of Surrey-owned house near Unwin Park, bikes – all fixed up and ready for new owners – stand in a line, ready for delivery. Next to the bikes, the dining room is filled with shelf upon shelf of gently-used running shoes; the kitchen, meanwhile contains bags of bike helmets, and each of the home’s spare rooms are jammed full of other donated gear, from figure skates and basketballs to baseball bats, gloves, hockey socks and soccer cleats.

And then there’s the basement, which smells strongly of rubber – courtesy of the hundreds of bike tires and tubing that hang on the walls – and has been transformed into a bicycle repair shop that would rival any professional outfit.

Everything in the house – and the building itself – has been donated to the organization, while some of the bikes, originally either stolen or lost, come from the RCMP once they go unclaimed.

Throughout the house, on what little available wall space is left, are hand-written posters which trumpet the organization’s mission statement.

“The vision is right there on the wall – it says ‘every child in need will have the sports and recreational equipment required to stay healthy, be active and have fun,” said Ian Lagasse, one of REC’s directors.

REC – which stands for Recycled Equipment and Cycles – has been operating since 2007, and was started by members of local rotary clubs, chiefly the Rotary Club of White Rock. The organization collects donated bikes and other sports gear, cleans them up, and then delivers the goods to youngsters throughout Surrey who’ve been referred to them through schools, the RCMP and a variety of social services.

The program – modeled after a similar one in Edmonton – aims to get children involved in sports at the grassroots level, and volunteers are just as happy to see a young recipient shooting hoops in a driveway with friends as they are to hear of them registered in an official sports league.

“And giving them a bicycle not only gets them out riding but it also helps these kids get to and from their activities. We give them some mobility,” said Don Jones, another director, adding that REC has given away more than 340 bikes this year alone.

Refugee families – like the many expected to arrive soon from Syria – are among REC’s many clients, Lagasse said, adding that it’s especially rewarding to help them adjust to a new country.

“They come here literally with nothing, and to one of those children, a bike isn’t just a means of conveyance – not just a way to get around – but it’s something that allows them to be seen by their peers as being part of the group,” he said.

The program was the brainchild of Derek Lucas, a White Rock rotarian who died in 2013. Both Lagasse and Jones are quick to credit Lucas’ dogged determination – especially in the early days – for getting the organization off the ground.

“Some of our early meetings, it was an uphill battle. I don’t know how many times we went to Derek and said… ‘forget it, Derek. It was a good idea, but it’s not gonna fly. We can’t make it go.’

“But he would not take no for an answer. He just would not accept that this wasn’t going to work.”

Lucas’s wife, Donna, is a current director and volunteer, and laughs when she recalls how her husband came up with the idea for the program.

“Our kids grew up and when they were going off to university, he looked around the garage and said, ‘Hey, what about all this sports stuff?’

“We laid it all out on the front lawn but nobody picked any of it up – bikes, baseball gloves, baseball bats, all of it. Derek didn’t want to take it all to the dump, so he packed it all up and drove around looking for kids to give it to. He just drove around, handing stuff out.

“I think that was his motivation, to tell you the truth – to clean out the garage.”

Though Donna, Lagasse and Jones admit REC for Kids often feels like a full-time job – all three are retired, as are many, but not all, of their fellow volunteers – Donna has a simple answer when asked why all the work is worth it.

“What it is, is the look on the kids faces when you give them their bike, or their shoes or skates,” she said.

There was one face – one little girl – who all three remember, specifically.

A few years ago, a single mother came to REC after being referred there by a social service. Her daughter, about to turn five, had never had a bike before, but was nervous about entering the house.

“Her mother said, ‘You’d better come in, because we might be able to get you a bike,’” Donna recalled.

“Then the girl said she didn’t want just any bike, she wanted a special bike, like one she’d had a dream about.”

The perfect bike, the little girl explained, was to be white and pink with flowers on it, and it needed a basket, streamers and a bell.

“And as she’s saying all this, I look over at the bike we have for her, and it’s exactly like the one she’d described,” Donna continued. “She ran in and said ‘That’s the bike from my dream!’ She jumped up and down, she couldn’t believe it. We all had tears in our eyes, and her mother just burst into tears. She said she never would’ve been able to afford that bike.

“‘You don’t know how much this means to me,’ she said.”

For more on Rec for Kids, or to donate any sports equipment or bikes, email recforkids@telus.net or visit www.recfordkids.com

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A pair of Surrey Eagles fight for a puck against Langley during a game last season. The two teams were set for an exhibition game last weekend, but it was cancelled after an unnamed member of the Eagles tested positive for COVID-19. However, no other team member has tested positive so far, leading the BCHL to call it an 'isolated incident.' (Garrett James photo)
No additional positive COVID-19 tests for Surrey Eagles so far: BCHL

All but one test has been processed, with no further players or staff infected, league says

Hundreds of people gathered in White Rock last year to participate in the annual Remembrance Day ceremony – but due to COVID-19, the city’s ceremony this year will be online only. (File photo)
White Rock chooses ‘virtual’ Remembrance Day

Due to COVID-19 the Nov. 11 ceremony will be online only

Peace Portal Alliance Church, at the corner of King George Boulevard and 152 Street, is the extreme-weather shelter for South Surrey for the upcoming season. It is to have 14 mats available nightly for those experiencing homelessness, regardless of weather conditions. (Tracy Holmes photo)
14 beds planned for South Surrey extreme-weather shelter

Webinar tonight to field questions, share info on Peace Portal Alliance Church refuge

White Rock Whalers president Ronnie Paterson (inset photo) is hopeful the team and City of White Rock will be able to find a solution that will allow the Whalers and their PJHL opponents to use the dressing rooms at Centennial Arena. (Jody Harris photo)
Whalers waiting to hear on dressing-room availability as PJHL home-opener looms

White Rock team owner ‘confident’ hurdles can be overcome in talks with city

FILE – Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides the latest update on the COVID-19 pandemic in the province during a press conference in the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, October 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. shatters COVID-19 records with 817 weekend cases; masks now expected indoors

Three people have died over the past three reporting periods

Commissioner Austin Cullen listens to introductions before opening statements at the Cullen Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in British Columbia, in Vancouver, on February 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. money laundering inquiry hears of $800,000 and more in bags, luggage, backpacks

The lottery corporation has said it consistently reported suspicious transactions to Fintrac

Some of the characters in the League of Legends video game. (Photo: na.leagueoflegends.com)
E-sports trial at B.C. high schools to start with ‘League of Legends’ team game

For fall launch, Vancouver’s GameSeta company partners with BC School Sports

Graphic on promo material for Best Buy Canada’s Tech Wonderland event.
Drive-through ‘Tech Wonderland’ coming to PNE site a few weeks before Christmas

Best Buy Canada-backed ‘holiday’ event to raise money for charity

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Aaliyah Rosa. File photo
Crown says murder of seven-year-old in Langley was planned, deliberate

The trial of KerryAnn Lewis began Monday in New Westminster

B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry. (B.C. government photo)
Unnamed school in Fraser Health region closed due to COVID-19

Closure announced by Dr. Bonnie Henry during daily briefing

Most Read