The faint sound of laughter mixed with clanking tools echoed through a vast building late last week.
The noises came from rooms scattered throughout the building where groups of workers tuned hundreds of used bikes in preparation for the 50th annual Share-A-Gift toy and bike store on Saturday.
This year, to ensure that hundreds of families who live in the Boulder Valley School District have Christmas gifts, Share-A-Gift has partnered with IT service management company, Kyndryl, who have loaned space on the old IBM campus, to repair more than 250 bikes – the most ever received – and store hundreds of gifts.
Pete Lorenzen, senior site manager at Kyndryl, said he had volunteered with Share-A-Gift in the past and was happy to donate space for the annual event.
“Our plan is to engage with the community in any way we can,” Lorenzen said. “You can see the value of (Share-A-Gift) and the number of families they are reaching.”
Lorenzen said he was sure Kyndryl would help out again next year if he still had some space available.
On December 9, about 25 volunteers spent hours at Kyndryl working on used bikes from Saturday’s toy store.
Bradley Allen of cycling company Shimano said he volunteered to repair bikes for Share-A-Gift for four years.
“It’s just cool to get the kids riding bikes,” Allen said. “I think there’s all this experience around cycling when you’re young and these kids are riding bikes. Allowing them to have that experience, to have that freedom, it’s super cool.
Longtime board member Trude Kleess said that every year, volunteers from the organization contact Boulder Valley School District principals and ask if they’re interested in taking a school bike ride. a day when local families bring in used bikes that their kids have outgrown. Schools also collect toy donations for the organization.
Kleess said last year they had around 150 bikes to give away to kids of all ages up to 14. Share-A-Gift received about $19,000 in cash donations this year and spent about $2,500 on bike helmets and budgeted about $10,000 on toys.
Last year, Share-A-Gift served over 740 families in the Boulder Valley School District area. Each year, families receive a book and a large gift for each of their children. In addition, each family can also have a bicycle, a game, a puzzle, a bag of stocking stuffers and a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics toy if they wish.
Kleess said she joined Share-A-Gift in 1984. When she was young, she sorted her toys and gave away what she no longer used. When she and her husband heard about Share-A-Gift, the organization seemed completely in tune with their values, she said.
“In the different places I have lived in my life, I have dealt with a lot of children who have nothing or who are abused or who are in a bad situation,” she said. “I think every child should be able to have a great vacation,” she said.
To stem the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, Share-A-Gift switched to a contactless, drive-thru format last year and is maintaining the same process this year. In previous years, parents could walk into the toy store and pick out gifts for their kids, Kleess said.
“We respect the dignity of parents when we let them shop, so it’s not just about giving them something,” Kleess said. “It’s really hard for us to just give someone a bag (of toys), but it’s better than nothing. I hope this will reduce the emotional and financial stress on the family and that we will reduce domestic violence.
There are four distribution times on Saturday for the toy store. Hours are based on the first letter of the family’s last name, and the first hour begins at 8 a.m. at 6300 Diagonal Highway.
Families should bring photo ID or proof of address and a birth certificate or school record for each child who will receive the gifts. More information about Saturday’s Toy Shop can be found at https://shareagift.org/toy-shop/.