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Gung Ho giving: Elves turn donated bikes into Christmas presents

William P. Kalina
York Dispatch

 

It’s a little like Santa's workshop, except instead of elves, it’s grown men, Santa is not so burly, and there is only one type of toy.

Employee Clark Evanitus works on a donated bike at Gung Ho Bikes Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. The bike seller collects donated bikes year around and refurbishes them in early December to donate to local charities in time for Christmas. Gung Ho expects to give away about 120 bikes this year. Bill Kalina photo

Every year about this time, Gung Ho Bikes owner Jay Zech (Santa) gathers a handful of his employees (elves) who volunteer to spend several hours after work one day at the Manchester Township shop to refurbish the bevy of donated bicycles the shop receives throughout the year.

“It’s not unusual to get one a week, even in the summer,” Zech said. “We tuck ‘em in every nook and cranny and every little place that we can find in the shop.”

Zech estimates the shop took in about 120 bikes this year. They range in size from tricycles to adult mountain bikes.

The “workshop” at the Manchester Township business is well-equipped for bike repair, and the crew of five employees lends their skill to checking brakes, tires, shifters and anything else that needs attention.

“Most of the bikes we can repair in pretty quick order,” Zech said. The ones they can’t are used for parts.

The workers' only pay is the pizza, sub sandwiches and beverages that Zech provides.

The next morning finds the finished bikes leaning five and six deep on an exterior wall of the business.  

Representatives from nonprofits such as Crispus Attucks, Big Brothers Big Sisters and York Children’s Aid arrive with pickups, trailers and even rented vans to collect the bikes for eager cyclists in time for the holidays.

Chip Dalton of Crispus Attucks, left, is helped load bikes by Gung Ho Bikes owner Jay Zech at the shop Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017. The bike shop collects donated bikes year around and refurbishes them in early December to donate to local charities. Zech says he expects to give away about 120 bikes this year. Bill Kalina photo

It doesn’t take long for the trove of bikes to empty out.

Just like Santa's sleigh on Christmas morning.