REC for Kids directors Don Jones

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

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson leaves the assembly with Premier John Horgan after the budget speech Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Finance minister says B.C. ‘absolutely committed’ to Surrey-Langley SkyTrain project

Finance Minister Selina Robinson did a post-budget breakdown with the Surrey Board of Trade

B.C.’s public health restrictions on non-essential travel are reinforced by orders effective April 23, 2021 to stay within your own regional health authority except for essential travel such as work and medical appointmens. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 non-essential travel ban takes effect, $575 fines approved

Checks on highways, ferries between Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island, Interior

White Rock council say closure of the city’s pier, promenade and parking lots are not under consideration at this time, but have approved other COVID-19 options for the waterfront including stepped-up RCMP patrols that are already part of detachment planning. (Aaron Hinks photo)
White Rock pier, promenade, parking lot closures off the table – for now

Council members warn decision subject to future provincial health orders

It remains to be seen how tourism dollars announced this week will help in White Rock. (Sterling Cunningham file photo)
White Rock officials question if tourism relief will come soon enough

For business, budget ‘feels more like a placeholder,’ says chamber head

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
South Surrey, White Rock MLAs call Tuesday’s provincial budget ‘disappointing’

MLAs Stephanie Cadieux and Trevor Halford say residents are getting less for more

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden smile as they say farewell following a virtual joint statement in Ottawa, Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau pledges to cut emissions by 40% to 45% by 2030, short of U.S. goal

Trudeau announced target during a virtual climate summit convened by U.S. President Joe Biden

Nic Hume and his fellow paramedic stopped to rescue the victim of an Oak Bay hit-and-run – a duck – at the end of their shift Thursday morning. (Nic Hume/Facebook)
B.C. paramedics don’t duck a chance to help someone in need

Ambulance duo end a long shift by helping a distressed duck in Victoria suburb

As the snow in Manning Park melts, searchers are able to get a little farther each day. Photo submitted
Family resumes search for son missing in B.C.’s Manning park since October

‘This is our child, and we don’t give up on our children,’ said mother of Jordan, Josie Naterer

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Man dies after Okanagan Connector rollover

A passenger survived and is being treated in hospital for his injuries

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
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

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Canada buys 65M Pfizer booster shots for protection against COVID-19 variants

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the deal with Pfizer includes options to add 30 million doses in both 2022 and 2023, and an option for 60 million doses in 2024

A plan flew over the Lower Mainland with a sign expressing some Canucks fans’ discontent with the team’s general manager. (Niqhil Velji - Twitter Screenshot)
#FireBenning movement gets off the ground in Metro Vancouver

Canucks fans raise enough money to fly banner over Metro Vancouver asking for team GM to be canned

The freed osprey keeps a wary eye on its rescuers after being deposited on its nest. (Photo credit: Greg Hiltz)
Hydro crew in Ashcroft gets osprey rescue call-out they won’t soon forget

Bird was tangled in baling wire hanging from a hydro pole, necessitating a tricky rescue

Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth speaks to media at the Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday February 5, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to announce travel restrictions today to limit COVID-19 spread

Mike Farnworth is expected to give details of what the government views as essential travel

Most Read