Mobile Bicycle Repair Unit: Operation Feed The Homeless

Join us this Sunday from 3:30-5:30pm as we head back out to Santa Ana, Ca. to help out the less fortunate with their bicycles.

If you have a work stand and know how to fix bicycles, then come and join us! Even if you don’t know how to fix bicycles, you can still join us as Operation Feed The Homeless will be there passing out food as well as celebrating a young boy’s birthday.

If you’re interested, leave a comment or reach out to me:

Operation Feed the Homeless:Mobile Bicycle Repair Unit

Once a month my family will volunteer in Santa Ana, Ca. to help with Operation Feed the Homeless(OFTH). Typically my wife and kids will help by serving food to some of the homeless as well as play with some of the little kids who are also there. This Sunday was no different from our typical time of serving. But the last few times we’ve been out, I had taken some donations that Planet Bike graciously sent me to pass out to the homeless who needed bicycle safety products such as lights, locks and bells. Another time that I went out, I was joined by my friend James Thomas of Serfas. He passed out a suitcase full of lights to those who needed them.

While my family was serving, I busted out my mobile bicycle repair unit. This consisted of a push cart, work stand, grease, lube, tools and truing stand. It may sound funny, but I do feel that God has blessed me with the ability to work with my hands and he’s allowed me to be very good at it. This was my way of giving back to those who are less fortunate. Not only was I able to help people, but I’m working on bikes and that’s one of my favorite things to do.

operation feed the homeless

I serviced all types of bikes that had a variety of problems. Some needed truing, others needed brake and derailleur adjustments while one of the bikes needed a nut to keep the suspension pivot from falling apart.

Here you can see my red cart full of stuff.

One of the bikes I worked on was this lowrider beach cruiser that had a 100+spoke wheel. The owner complained that his front wheel was wobbly. After getting it on the stand, I quickly saw that his axle nuts were extremely loose. I quickly fixed that problem for him and he was very grateful for my services.

For each bike that came to me, I made sure I lubed their chain and checked their brakes. I wish I had a picture of it, but one bike’s drive train was completely rusted out and he complained that it was hard for him to pedal and that his bike was squeaky. After applying some lube, he was a happy man!

I love working on bicycles and its especially rewarding when I can do it for folks who can’t take of their bikes because they either don’t know how or don’t have the money to take it to a shop. I plan on going back next month and some of the folks I did meet are already looking forward to my return. If you are in the Orange County, Ca. area next month and would like to join me in providing this service to the community, feel free to leave a comment and we can set up a time and date to do so.

Making a difference in the local community

Last month you may have read about how, with the help of Planet Bike went out to serve the local community in providing bicycle safety products to those in need.

After that event I went out another time to pass out the remaining items I had and when I ran out of goods I contacted the good folks of Planet Bike to see if they could provide more products. I also contacted my friend James Thomas (JT) of Serfas, they too make bicycle accessories.

About a week later I received another package from Planet Bike and by that time JT and I had talked about him coming out with me to pass out the products that Serfas donated
Planet Bike

On the day of the event, JT and I met up in Downtown Santa Ana, on Ross and Civic Center. With our bags full of goods, we headed out to talk to the people. This time we solicited the help of one of my daughters to take photographs to show what we’re doing in hopes it will motivate others to join our efforts, heck that’s how I got JT and Serfas to join us.

Yours truly on the left and JT on the right. Yep, he had a roller bag full of stuff! community service

Planet Bike

Here’s a great shot of JT helping out a woman who is clearly grateful for the items he gave her. You can also see how many people are out there.
James Thomas Serfas

Once the word spread that we were out there passing out bicycle safety products, we were getting approached by people who would run up to us asking for lights or a lock. Here’s a couple of guys who desperately needed lights, locks and JT even gave one of them a cushioned seat cover. These guys thanked us so many times and what’s great is, the items they received would make a great impact because it can save them money from getting a ticket by the local police who will fine bicycle riders that do not have lights and it can help save their lives.

This gentleman came running up to us and said, “I heard you guys are the ones who are going to save my life!” I responded by saying, “Is it because you need a light? If so, ya that’s us!” Here’s JT giving him a quick lesson on how to operate the lights.
serfas lights8

While JT was helping out another rider, I was talking to an elderly woman (not sure if you can see her behind the man) who was asking for lights. I told her that I need to make sure that I only give them to people who actually had bicycles. She then explained that she needs it when she’s walking at night. She also told me that she has had too many close calls with cars and needed something so they can see her. I figured that staying alive was a good enough reason to give her a light. But she couldn’t figure out where to put it and I suggested she clip on her purse handles, she thought that was a great idea and thanked me.
Planet Bike and Serfas helping the community

As we were heading out, this bicyclist rode up to us asking if he could get something for his bike. I gave him a Planet Bike pump, light and bell. He gladly accepted and loved that the bell even matched his bike!
Planet Bike Pump and Bell
JT also gave him the lights he had left in his bag.
Serfas lights

We had about 60 photos from the event, feel free to take a look at them.

I would like to thank the generosity of Planet Bike as well as Serfas. Without their help, this would have never happened. I super appreciated JT coming out to help and I think he understood why I do this. He saw that people are genuinely grateful for the products that we gave. In the grand scope of things, the basic bicycle needs of a light can literally save someone’s life.

As you can see lights and locks are needed. But from talking to the people we served, we found that they are also in need of tubes, pumps and patch kits. What’s great about Planet Bike and Serfas some of the items they donated were trade show samples or perfectly working products with some sort of cosmetic blemish that doesn’t pass QA for retail sales, but like I said, THEY WORK. So that means some of these items will sit in a warehouse collecting dust. But through our community service efforts, they have been re-purposed and making a difference.

If you or the company you work for would be interested in helping out our community service efforts, please contact me so we can coordinate.

Thank You,

RL Policar

Operation Feed The Homeless:This Sunday

Join us in Santa Ana, Ca. this Sunday December 16, 2012 from 3pm-5pm. We’ll be meeting at Ross and Civic Center.

Here’s some details of the event:

We invite you to take a few minutes to read this and see if you can offer any support. Through love and compassion every act of kindness, no matter how small can radically change the life of a child. Last Sunday at Operation Feed the Homeless in Santa Ana, I spoke to many moms who are struggling to take care of their families. Many of them are single or teen parents or have children with physical or mental health problems. They live in poverty and have little or no support.

Most speak little or no English and lack the proper support to access the resources they need. As I listened to them as they were telling me their situations and the challenges they face, it broke my heart to see the desperation in their eyes. I felt like there was nothing I could do. A mom asked if we had any pots or pans because hers were very old and worn. These moms deserve so much more for the love, strength and sacrifice they have made to try to give the best they can for their children. OFTH would like to show some love and encourage these moms in a small way by giving them a durable Pot or Pan so they can cook meals for their kids on secure nontoxic material.

We know that this small act of kindness would touch these mother’s hearts and that is why we are asking for your support in our cause to help these families. If you can donate a pot or pan please let me know. In addition to this cause, we are having our normal feeding and Toy Drive to provide Christmas gifts for these families so the kids can have presents to open on Christmas. Any support to help them during this Christmas season is greatly appreciated. You can also give a tax deductible donation to ICARE4YA on our website or if you would like to help with food that would be a blessing!We thank you in advance in joining us To help make a difference one family at a time.

If you would like to join us, feel free to show up between the times listed above. You can look for me (RL), I’ll be wearing my green T-Shirt. Folks from various bicycle accessory companies have committed to donate goods so we can pass them out to people who ride bicycles that could use the items.

This is a family friendly event and you can bring your children to help out, but make sure you keep an eye on them during the whole time. You can help the event by passing out food, helping with with the Christmas celebration for the kids or with clothing donations.

Hope to see you there!

RL Policar and Planet Bike, Caring for the less fortunate

A few months ago I did some volunteering with Operation Feed the Homeless in Santa Ana, Ca. As we were passing out food and clothing for the homeless, I noticed that a majority of the recipients had bicycles. So I began talking with them and found out that bicycles were their main mode of transportation. They used bikes to get between shelters, odd jobs and to simply get around. As I got to know more of the folks I asked them what they needed when it came to their bicycles. Of course, I got a list of items they needed such as tubes, locks, lights, tires, etc.

With those items in mind I posted it on my Facebook account stating that I was thinking of trying to do something to help the less fortunate on bicycles. To my surprise, well actually I shouldn’t be surprised, our friend Chris Follmer of Planet Bike sent me a private message stating they wanted to help out as much as they could. I gladly accepted their offer and a few days later a big box arrived with a bunch of goodies. This box weighed over 41lbs and it was filled with head- and taillights, as well as locks and a few pairs of Planet Bike Wool Socks.

Fast forward to November 4th, 2012: I spent a few hours with Operation Feed The Homeless. While my wife and kids were helping with the food, I started walking around asking people who had bicycles if they needed a light or lock for their bike. At first I got some friction from people who were suspicious of my intentions. But that quickly subsided when I started offering it to others. Word spread like wildfire as more and more people started looking for me to get a lock or light.

One woman I gave items to was so grateful and thanked me profusely and she asked me how I came up with this idea because she said it was so thoughtful. I explained to her about my previous visit and saw the need. As I installed her new Planet Bike Blaze 1w headlight, she went on saying that this was so “BADASS!” and told me that she really needed the lock since she’s had 3 bikes stolen from her before and that she’s been hit by a car because she didn’t have a light. Oh and get this, the lock I gave her had keys to it. Her friend tells her that she’ll lose them (keys), she responds by saying, ” No I won’t, I’m going to make earrings out of them! That way I never forget where they are and besides, no one would ever steal earrings!” I thought her idea for the earrings were great, I think that could be a project we can write an article about.

I don’t have very many photos because I was busy helping people out, but my wife snapped a few with her phone. Besides I felt kinda weird taking pictures of me trying to do something good for others. I didn’t want to make it some sort of photo opportunity; I wanted it to be more out of my own heart rather than a publicity stunt.
planet bike blaze 1w

Here’s a gentleman who I gave a lock to as well as a light. He was recently hit by a car and the driver didn’t even stop! He was very thankful for the light and even said now he can lock up his bike without the fear that someone will steal it.
Planet bike lock

Here’s one of the guys who came chasing me to get a light and lock. Notice to the left of the photo, the person is holding a new Planet Bike lock, but you can see his old lock. It’s basically a cable with jumper cables as his padlock.
Planet Bike and

That’s about all the photos I had from my afternoon. I passed out all the Planet Bike Blaze 1w headlights, the taillights are almost gone and I still have a few locks to give out for next time. I’d like to take this time to thank our friends at Planet Bike for their generous donations of goods. The recipients were very grateful for their locks and lights. I know those items may not seem like much to some of us, but for them it helps keep them safe while riding at night as well as protect their most valued property, their bicycle.

You know what’s great about Planet Bike and this whole thing? They saw a need, stepped up and they didn’t even ask for anything in return. So if that tells you anything about their company and the people behind the products, it should help you feel good knowing that when you purchase any of their items, you’re helping support a wonderful company who have some genuine people that work there.