'Pedals 4 Peanuts' rounds out holidays with bikes for underprivileged children
Remember the freedom of owning a bike as a child? This 19th century device often provides kids with a fun and healthy way to get around their neighborhoods and small towns.
“At the end of the day, it’s something everybody relates to,” said Daniel Island resident Dennis Schimpf. “They remember having a bike, no matter how grown up they are.”
His non-profit Pedals 4 Peanuts tries to put bikes in the hands of underprivileged children whose families may not be able to afford the expenditure. They do this by hosting a day of construction every year around the holiday season to build bicycles, then deliver them to the community. And thanks to a continued collaboration with Boeing and new support from Toys for Tots, Pedals 4 Peanuts is gaining the ability to reach more people.
Schimpf, a plastic surgeon who owns Daniel Island’s Sweetgrass Plastic Surgery, dreamed up the idea for Pedals 4 Peanuts with one of his children.
“My oldest daughter, Abigail, and I were shopping and looking at bikes for some of the younger kids in our family, and it just kind of came to us—the idea of giving away bikes,” he said.
The day of manufacturing Christmas presents began as a family affair, with Schimpf and his kids putting the bikes together.
“We started five years ago, giving them to schools. We knew some teachers,” said Schimpf. “We asked the teachers to see if kids in their class needed bikes and started out that way.”
From there, Pedals 4 Peanuts expanded to include the North Charleston Police Department and the Charleston Police Department.
“Last year, we gave a few hundred bikes,” Schimpf said. “The [North Charleston PD] officers were there in uniform and gave them out to the kids, and so the first interaction for those kids with a police officer was a positive one, and hopefully builds good will in the community.”
The trend for the non-profit to add other organizations to the mix continued when Boeing became involved with the bike construction days. In 2018, the industry giant aided Pedals 4 Peanuts in the manufacturing of approximately 400 bikes.
“This is our second year running this operation,” said Boeing Engineer Paul Werntges. “We always wanted to get Boeing involved to see if we could bring these bike-build events up to some giant, huge scale.”
“When we first started, it didn’t occur to me that they would set it up like an assembly line, but of course that was their first thought,” added Schimpf. “They definitely go above and beyond in terms of detail and planning.”
The day of construction functioned like a machine. Volunteers, first responders, and members of the armed forces packed tightly into a Boeing-owned building that was still under construction. Each individual worked a different task, and like the bikes, contributed to a sum that was greater than the individual parts.
A large part of the lobby was stuffed with boxes branded with the Huffy logo. Some were moving and unpacking those containers, while a large group stood at roughly a dozen tables where the construction began. Once all the parts were put in the right places and bikes were ride-ready, they were rolled into the building’s entryway.
In years prior, bikes were given to various places, such as schools, community centers, and even residential doorsteps, and in 2018 the majority of the two-wheeled transports will go to Toys for Tots.
“It’s taken us five years to get to this level, to be an approved charity of Boeing,” said Schimpf. “Being involved with organizations like Toys for Tots and Boeing, and the name recognition, hopefully will help us be able to get more bikes to more children.”
But, even with the increased production and larger organizations contributing, Pedals 4 Peanuts still tries to remain a help to the local community. This year, the non-profit will keep about 100 bikes to distribute through Tri-County Ministry and smaller individual foundations, according to Schimpf.
“We get requests directly from family members or friends of families who know the family is in need, and try to provide individual or smaller numbers of bikes to those folks,” he said.
For more information on the charity, visit http://pedals4peanuts.com.