When Hazelwood firefighter/paramedics aren’t out on a call battling fires, emergencies or serious medical situations, a few of them can be found at the fire station cleaning and repairing bicycles for their annual Bike Donation Program for the holidays. They’ve been carrying on this tradition for about 35 years as the veterans has passed on their knowledge to keep this effort alive.
According to Pvt. Jacob (Jerry) Cantrell, a two-year veteran of the Hazelwood Fire Department, “We’ve been fixing up and donating bikes to needy kids for over 35 years from what I’ve been told. I believe it all started when Capt. Eric Kiehl used to work at a bike shop and he was able to get bike parts donated to us to do all the repairs. That lasted for about 10 years. Then we lost that source for parts because the company stopped selling bicycles.”
Pvt. Cantrell goes on to say, “Now, as part of our Hazelwood Firefighters Community Outreach Program, we have regular fund-raisers for charity projects like our Bike Donation Program and we can afford to get the parts we need for the bikes we fix. We even had someone bring in a brand new bike as a donation. Plus, if we run across any bikes with bent frames, we salvage the parts and use them on other bikes.”
Hazelwood firefighter/paramedics have a total of 36 bikes ready to be donated this holiday season. There’s a good variety of mountain bikes, multi-speed roadsters and freestyle BMX bikes for adults and kids to ride.
These bikes will be delivered to Father Bob at St. Augustine Catholic Church in downtown St. Louis for his annual holiday program. He serves approximately 3,000 to 5,000 people who are less fortunate. Throughout the year, they send him letters requesting help during the holiday season. He responds by giving them gift certificates that can be traded in for clothing, groceries and some toys, including the bikes donated by Hazelwood’s firefighter/paramedics.