Boys and Girls Club hosted its final Earn a Bike meeting this past weekend with Trenton High School Students. The program has helped 23 local Trenton High School students learn essential bicycle maintenance and repair.

Abel Mara, the Bike Exchange volunteer manager, teaches the students in the program about how to maintain and fix up their bikes. “I help young teens learn life skills and basic maintenance, troubleshooting bicycles, and doing diagnostics. Basically, you look at a bike. You see what kind of issues that there are, and you fix it,” Mara said. 

He explains that he helps the kids work their way from the front of the bike to the back by using an ABC method. “The ABC (method) would be air, front and rear tires, the brakes, front and rear tires, and to make sure that the chains are on. So it’s really simple.”

The program is also meant to help foster life skills across the board. It is an exercise in troubleshooting a problem and being patient when figuring it out. “Whether they want to do bike repairs, or they want to be a mechanic or just anything in life…they can use it as a future reference and a stepping stone for a career somewhere else,” Mara said.

Every student earned a free bike from the stock in the store. “At the end of the session,  each of (the students) was rewarded with a bicycle that they picked from our stock,” Ira Saltiel, Volunteer director of the Boys and Girls Bike exchange said, “I’ve never seen such happy kids in my life, it was one of the best days of my life.”  

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Mercer County Bike Exchange is a volunteer lead store that focuses on repairing used bikes and selling them at a lower price to low-income families in Mercer County.” I’ve been retired for about 14 years and this is the most rewarding reading thing I’ve done in my whole life,” Saltiel said. 

Over the last 12 years, the Boys and Girls bike exchange has sold over 23,000 low-cost bikes to residents in Trenton. The net proceeds have now exceeded over 1.3 million dollars donated toward the Boys and Girls Club. 

 In the last two years, we’ve had exceptional results,” Ira Saltiel, the Volunteer Director of the Boys and Girls Bike exchange, said. “We’ve sold over 400,000 dollars worth of bikes since COVID has started.”

According to Saltiel, the COVID-19 pandemic created a need in the community to purchase used bikes. “Covid has created a demand for bikes that was almost insatiable, and because of the problem in the supply chain, bikes aren’t available. So with the bikes not being available and increasing demand, It was challenging to obtain a bike. We were able to satisfy the demand.”

The store hours are Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. and Thursdays from 5 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. To find out more information like where to donate your used bikes go to https://www.bgcmercer.org/bgc-bike-exchange