Victoria shop fixes donated bikes, gives them to kids at Christmas

Martin Clermont wants every kid to have that “first taste of freedom” when they get their first bicycle.

So he’s asking anyone tripping over an old children’s bike in their garage to bring it down to Russ Hay’s Bicycles, where shop elves are ready to fix them up and get them to less-fortunate kids this Christmas.

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“Every kid should have a bike,” said Clermont, who owns Russ Hay’s with his father, Mike. “It gives them freedom as well as a great sense of responsibility.”

Clermont is hoping to ramp up the program this year with local co-sponsor Parker Johnston Roofing. Last year, they fixed up more than a dozen little bikes and gave them to the Single Parent Resource Centre for distribution. This year, Russ Hay’s is working with the same charitable group and wants other children’s charities to come on board.

“Many people have bikes sitting around, so why not bring them in, let us fix them up and you can be involved in making a kid smile this Christmas.”

Clermont is asking people to bring their “gently used” kids’ bike into the Victoria (650 Hillside Ave.) or Sidney (2426 Bevan Ave.) locations before Dec. 15 so the bikes can be distributed prior to Christmas. He’s asking for bikes that suit children from age 10 and younger “because they are easier to satisfy,” but will take models for older children as well. He said if there is a generous response, the bikes can be given away into the new year.

Clermont added that if people don’t have a bike to drop off, but would like to help, Russ Hay’s will accept monetary donations that will go directly toward purchasing bikes for charity.

On Thursday, Russ Hay’s was voted one of the Best Bicycle Shops in Canada for 2013 by the readers of Canadian Cyclist magazine. There were 3,953 ballots cast in one week — nearly four times as many as last year’s first contest. Sixteen shops from across Canada were selected as receiving the highest number of votes based on customer service and passion for cycling. The other B.C. winner was Dodge City Cycles in Cumberland.

Russ Hay’s is considered one of Greater Victoria’s oldest continuously operated bicycle retailers. It was founded in 1959 by Russ Hay and acquired in 1974 by Mike Clermont. It has been operated in the Hillside area since the beginning and opened its Sidney location in 1985.

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