Farmington Hills biz collects bike, helmet donations

Back Alley Bikes
Students learn bike repair skills through Back Alley Bikes.

A Farmington Hills men’s clothier has teamed up with a Walled Lake auto shop to put Detroit area kids on two wheels.

The Shirt Box and Kenny’s Lakes Area Auto Experts will collect bicycles in any condition and new bike helmets through September 23, to benefit Detroit-based Back Alley Bikes (BAB). Founded in 2000, the nonprofit community bike shop and repair and resource center provides cycling education and services with a focus on youth development, sustainable practices and community access.

Its Earn a Bike program, for youth ages 10 to 17, teaches participants how to fix the bike, which they then keep. For children under 10, the nonprofit will repair the bike prior to the donation. Last year, nearly 400 bikes were given to families or earned by youth.

Ron Elkus, co-owner of The Shirt Box, said the businesses teamed up last year for a successful drive. “I am looking forward to seeing how many we can collect over the upcoming weeks,” he said in a press release.

“We cannot thank The Shirt Box and Kenny’s Lakes Area Auto Experts enough for hosting this bike drive again,” said Meg Marotte, operations and communications manager, Back Alley Bikes. “Everyday we get to see how youth are not only transformed by having their own bicycle but also through learning the skills needed to maintain them. I know many students in Detroit are appreciative of the efforts of these businesses.”

The Shirt Box is located at 32500 Northwestern Hwy. and is open Monday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Thursday until 7 p.m. Lakes Area Auto Experts, at 490 North Pontiac Trail, will be open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., as well as Wednesday until 7 p.m.

Kenny Walters, owner of Kenny’s Lakes Area Auto Experts, said having a bike “can make the difference between going to school or not. I hope metro Detroiters take this opportunity to look through their garages and basements and finally clear out those bicycles that have been gathering dust for years.”

After September 23, Walters will gather the bikes from both locations and deliver them to BAB. While many bikes will be used during the school year, others will be repaired and donated in the months that follow.

For more information on the event, call The Shirt Box at 248-851-6770 or Lakes Area Auto Experts at 248-668-1200.