West Michigan elves build bikes for upcoming secret giveawayElves and More West Michigan were joined by some GRPD volunteers on Saturday morning to put together hundreds of bikes for a secret giveaway.
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - A group West Michigan elves, and some handy Grand Rapids police officers, came together to build hundreds of bikes and load them up into trailers for an upcoming secret giveaway.
The Elves and More West Michigan group puts on the bike build and giveaway weekends every year for children in one lucky Grand Rapids neighborhood.
Saturday, Dec. 14 was the bike build day which took place at Van's on Turner Avenue. This is the 14th year that Elves and More West Michigan has put on this special event.
While Santa's helpers have historically been known to reside at the North Pole, Liz Bracken and her group of volunteers are proof that elves reside as far south as West Michigan. For three years, the Elves & More -West Michigan organization has been devoted to bringing children hope on two wheels. Since 2005, the nonprofit organization has donated nearly 4,000 bicycles and 800 treasure boxes to children in need across the greater Grand Rapids area.
This year, the group donated 1,000 bicycles to children in need along Madison Avenue in downtown Grand Rapids.
"Our mission is to bring hope to a child by providing a bicycle, which not only is a fun gift, but provides needed transportation to school, church, after-school activities and more," said Bracken, Elves & More-West Michigan president. "We gift an entire neighborhood to eliminate jealousy and promote a play group. It also provides a physical activity that can last a lifetime and is a first step toward independence."
This year, the nonprofit organization raised more than $65,000 in donations and more than 300 volunteers showed up to help build and prepare the bikes for donation.
The group was formed by Bracken and friends Mike Bartz and Marcia Borowka following a Christmas Eve newscast documenting an Elves & More group in Houston. After discussing the televised newscast, the three proceeded to establish an Elves & More group in West Michigan.
"Marcia and I set out to determine if there were any other programs planning to do this sort of thing," she said. "It turns out there wasn't, and even though we were being accused of being 'middle class white women trying to change the world' we ventured on."
The group spent the summer soliciting help from family, co-workers and friends. In September 2005, they ordered 400 bikes and delivered them, along with 100 treasure boxes containing items like diapers, board books, hats and mittens, to the Black Hills neighborhood on Christmas Eve.
The group continued their growing venture in 2006, delivering 900 bikes and 300 treasure boxes to another neighborhood in need. In 2007, the group gave out 1,600 bikes; nearly double the number of bikes given the year before.
Last year, and this year, the project has run over its share of speed bumps.
"Last year the bikes that were scheduled to be shipped on a boat hit a bridge in California," Bracken said. "Our challenge this year was the 10 plus inches of snow that fell the day before delivery. Even though the weather was cold, the sun was shining down on all, making for a happy day."
Bracken said she is grateful for the volunteer support the group receives, and in return, the volunteers seem to be happy with the opportunity to help.
"Another thing that inspires us to go through all this each year, in addition to helping the families, is providing an opportunity for the volunteers," she said. "They seem to get so much out of it. We continually hear things like 'Thank you so much for allowing me to help make a difference' and 'I used to hate the holidays but this makes me feel like I'm part of what Christmas is supposed to be about.' That really keep us going when the going gets tough."
Bracken said the organization is always looking for charitable partners.
"We'll definitely be back in 2009 as there are still many areas of need," she said. "We gather donations all year, so any fundraising events people want to host, or name Elves & More as a charity partner, helps tremendously."
For more information on Elves and More-West Michigan, visit www.elvesandmorewestmi.org.
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- The 13th annual "Elves and More Bicycle Giveaway" took place Saturday morning in the City High School parking lot where trucks pulled up and more than 1,000 bikes were given to West Michigan kids in need.
There were around 300 volunteers who participated in the event.
“It makes me feel happy, because they’re giving to the community," said Zyyare Jackson, 10, of Grand Rapids.
Jackson said he's excited to take a brand new bicycle home from the event.
“Some kids want bikes but can’t get bikes because of money problems, but now they’re getting bikes," said Jackson.
Volunteer Tim Maclam said seeing how happy the kids are when their neighborhood was surprised with these bicycles Saturday morning is why he has been volunteering since the first giveaway 13 years ago.
“The first time I did this I tried to fit a kid to a bike and he was all excited and jumping around," said Maclam. "I had the mom on the shoulder, hugging and crying and thanking me. It’s Christmas.”
Read on Fox 17
GRAND RAPIDS, MI -- Christmas came a couple days earlier for children around the Creston neighborhood as a charitable group delivered 1,100 new bikes to the area.
The Creston neighborhood, near City High/Middle School at Plainfield Avenue and Sweet Street, was the targeted area this year for the long-running program.
The bikes were free, provided through donations from corporate sponsors and individuals to the group Elves & More.
Elves & More teams up with Grand Rapids police and firefighters to alert residents -- the location is kept secret until the last minute -- with sirens and lights as they cruise slowly through the neighborhood.
Elves and More donates 1,100 bikes to children.. Read Article on MLive
ADA, Mich. – Saturday was a big day for volunteers in Ada who got together to build bicycles for children in need ahead of the holidays.
The event was put on by the non-profit ‘Elves and More West Michigan‘ at Amway Headquarters, 7575 Fulton St E. in Ada.
More than 200 volunteers put together 1,000 bikes to donate to a West Michigan neighborhood on Christmas Eve. An additional 300 bikes were already assembled by other volunteers.
Chief Elf, Liz Bracken, tells FOX17 that this is the 12th year for the event event and it allows kids to make a memory that will last a lifetime.
“A lot of the time kids don’t realize what’s happening. Once they are there and have their bike they don’t think they can keep the bike. One of our volunteers told him yeah this is yours and you can keep the bike and one of the kids grabbed him by the leg and said, you’re better than Santa,” Bracken says.
ADA, MICH. - Santa's elves were hard at work Saturday, Dec. 17, preparing bikes for a major giveaway on Christmas Eve.
One lucky neighborhood will receive a donation of 1,400 bikes next weekend -- there's no word on where it will be, yet!
More than 200 volunteers spent their Saturday morning at the Amway headquarters in Ada, building the bikes that will be given away next weekend.
The organization, Elves and More, has provided more than 13,000 bikes during the past 11 years.
"With the financial help of many generous people and companies and the continuous efforts of our volunteers, we expect another amazing year," said Elves and More's West Michigan founder and board member Liz Bracken.
"We hope to bring the same joy we've delivered these past years to a new neighborhood of at least 1,800 children," added Bracken, who also is President, CFO and COO of Grand River Bank.
Volunteers are still needed for the Dec. 24 "delivery day" event -- visit the organization's website for more.
ADA TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — While many West Michiganders spent Saturday checking off the final items on their Christmas shopping lists, some of Santa’s elves in metro Grand Rapids were busy with their own to-do lists.
Volunteers with the nonprofit Elves & More West Michigan assembled more than 1,000 bikes that will serve as surprise gifts for a deserving Grand Rapids neighborhood on Christmas Eve.
More than 300 people joined in the 12th annual bike build day at Amway’s world headquarters, including several members of local companies, organizations and families.
Volunteers with Elves & More West Michigan assemble bicycles for Grand Rapids children. (Dec. 17, 2016)On Dec. 24, Elves & More West Michigan will work with the Grand Rapids Police Department to deliver 1,400 bikes to an unsuspecting neighborhood.
But hours of hard work getting the bikes ready happens well before the delivery.
“A lot of the people who have been doing this have been helping out since year one and there’s a lot of family involvement, so it’s become a lot of family traditions to help out the weekend before Christmas and deliver these bikes,” media elf Taylor Bracken told 24 Hour News 8. “Everyone has that memory of getting their first bike. And for so many kids in these neighborhoods, they might not have any other presents, so it’s getting something to have on Christmas morning.”
You can learn more about how to volunteer with or donate to Elves & More West Michigan at the organization’s website.
The lucky neighborhood is kept a secret until delivery day. 24 Hour News 8 will be there as hundreds of deserving kids and families receive the heartfelt Christmas surprise.
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Giving Tuesday is a time where we don’t receive gifts, but a chance to give back to the community.
Thanks to Forest Hills Financial, the Morning Mix was able to give Elves & More West Michigan a gift of $250. In addition to the giant check, they are given access to the Forest Hills Financial Suite at Fifth Third Ballpark for a Whitecaps game next season. Elves & More is a non-profit organization devoted to bring hope to children during the holidays. Their mission is to provide bikes and helmets to kids that wouldn’t get one this Christmas. A typical kids bike and helmet cost about $75, and they assemble all the bikes by hand. So in order to make dreams come true for hundreds of kids this Christmas season, they need volunteers and donations. To make a donation or search for volunteer opportunities, visit ElvesAndMoreWestMI.org.