Lifelong Halstead, Kan., resident Jim Benbrook has spent the last four years working on a special project — a recycling project of sorts. Benbook, 81, fixes bicycles and gives them away to kids who need one.
Lifelong Halstead, Kan., resident Jim Benbrook has spent the last four years working on a special project — a recycling project of sorts.
Benbook, 81, fixes bicycles and gives them away to kids who need one.
“I’ll do this until I get tired,” Benbrook said.
He’s fixed and given away about 200 bicycles.
“It’s a good feeling to help someone out,” Benbrook said. “I’ve given several to older people, too. I’ll give them to anyone — I’ve taken some to Newton, Sedgwick, Burrton and Wichita.”
His project received a boost about two weeks ago, when the Halstead City Council voted to give him 20 bikes that had been languishing in the city surplus storage.
They were bikes found by police, never claimed by their owners.
The city had considered selling the bikes in an online auction, but was advised by the Web site that bikes didn’t sell very well. Benbrook approached the council about purchasing the bikes, but the council chose to give them to him instead.
“He’s fantastic,” said Diane Mueller, city clerk. “With this everybody wins. ... The council is aware he fixes bikes at his cost and gives them to kids who need and appreciate them. They chose to give him those bikes.”
Most of the time he fixes bikes left in the yard — when a bike needs some work kids will leave them in the yard in exchange for something else.
Friday afternoon there were about nine of those bikes left, most of them fixed and sitting in Benbrook’s front yard waiting for their new owners.
Benbrook said bikes in his front yard are “fair game” for anyone who needs one.
He’ll even give you the one he’s riding when he’s out and about.
“The other day I saw two girls, one on a bike and one who wasn’t,” Benbrook said. “I asked the one walking if she wanted a bike. She said yes. I said ‘here’ and walked home.”
A crossing guard during the school year, Benbrook knows a lot of the children in Halstead — and many of their parents.
During the school year he’s known for given kids candy and gum, even stopping cars to give kids who are riding home with their parents a treat.
“They usually just smile and go on,” Benbrook said.
It’s that love of children that started his recycling project — that and the memory of growing up in Halstead and not being able to afford a bike.
“When I was a kid we couldn’t afford a $5 bike with a garden house for an inner tube,” Benbrook said.