On Friday I had one of those interactions that warm my heart. I was working at bikes@vienna when a woman and her young son (oh, probably 9? I'm terrible with guessing ages) came in. At first I assumed I was going to have to disappoint them and tell them we no longer sell children's bikes, something that happens fairly often this time of year. However, this visit was different. The mom asked if we were still involved in taking donated children's bikes and passing them on to a local charity that gives them to needy children at the holidays. It seems the little fellow had outgrown his bike, and they wanted to donate it. The whole process was really very sweet... mom told her son that he didn't have to do it, but that it would give another child a chance to have a bike for the holidays, and that would be a good thing. The boy was clearly torn... he loved his bike, but wanted to do something generous and good. All in all he was very brave about the it... he straddled the bike one last time before letting it go, and he seemed to really "get" it that what he was doing was, well, noble.
It reminded me of my time at the Community Cycling Center in Portland, OR, a non-profit bike shop that had a number of programs to put kids as well as adults on bikes and teach them about bikes. I started there in the fall of 2000 as a volunteer, fixing up bikes for their annual Holiday Bike Drive, where donated bikes get fixed up and given to needy children. That was a much larger operation than our local group here in Vienna, but it's not about size, it's about doing good in this holiday season. I told the little boy and his mother about my experience at the CCC, including the day I helped give out the 700 or so bikes we'd recycled that year. It's an amazing thing seeing that number of children receive a bike they probably never figured they'd have. Sure they were used, not new and shiny, but you'd never have known if from the smiles and looks of awe.
So the little boy and his mom yesterday brought back fond memories for me and gave me a bit of a needed holiday boost. Another good deed done, even if they didn't realize it.