TAMPA, Fla. — A Hillsborough County teacher at Potter Elementary School is going beyond teaching in the classroom by collecting gently used bicycles to fix and donate to students at her school.
Melanie Bolender is an ESOL Resource teacher (English Speaker of Other Languages) at the school located in the Jackson Heights area.
Every year she collects gently used bikes, fixes them up and donates them to parents at her school.
"I really need more bikes," she said.
Last year, at the same time Bolender had more than 100 bikes she fixed up to donate to families in the lower income areas, however this year she only has around a dozen.
Bolender tells us, this year she's teaching at two elementary schools, Potter and Cleveland, so the need for bikes has grown.
This year, many of her students are brand new to the Tampa area as they are arriving from hurricane ravaged areas like Puerto Rico, Haiti and Honduras.
Bolender said many of these kids are living with relatives or family friends.
"I feel like a bike would just make them happy," she said.
She doesn't just fix bikes around the holidays, but she collects them all year, and uses them as incentives for students with good attendance.
Mrs. Bolender is collecting bikes that have minimal rust, flat tires, torn bike seats, or hand grips.
If you would like to help her cause, you can reach her at Cleveland or Potter Elementary Schools or drop off donations to Potter.