Bikes, sewing machines for international projects

Courtesy photo
Joanne Heidkamp and Paul Demers mark their 21st year of collecting bikes and sewing machines to send abroad to self-help projects around the world.

Paul Demers and Joanne Heidkamp, in partnership with a group of former Peace Corps volunteers, are marking their 21st year of collecting bikes and sewing machines for international self-help projects. Their initiative, Pedals for Progress, will be accepting donations of bikes and sewing machines at the Shaw’s supermarket parking lot, 570 Shelburne Road in South Burlington, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., on Saturday, Sept. 21.

“We’ll accept any adult or kids’ bike that is working or can be repaired,” said Demers. “We can repair flat tires, slipped chains and missing seats, and these bikes will be on the road for years to come. Bikes are environmentally sustainable transportation that help people get to work or school.”

Sewing machines should be in working condition and can be either portable or table models.

“Sewing machines are treasured in the developing world,” added Demers. “Self-help groups can build productive small businesses making bags, clothing and household items to sell. Creating these local jobs is huge for a struggling community.”

Since 1999, Pedals for Progress has shipped more than 4,000 bikes and 500 sewing machines from Vermont to community projects in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Uganda, Moldova and Vietnam.

“We don’t know yet where this year’s bikes and sewing machines will be going,” said Demers. “But we are 100 percent sure that the items will change peoples’ lives for the better.”

The group requests $10 with each item donated to help cover hefty overseas shipping expenses. A receipt for tax purposes is provided for the full value of the donation.

To learn more or volunteer to help, visit the group’s Facebook page “Pedals for Progress Vermont.”

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