Dreaming of a Bicycle Christmas
November 25, 2008 6:44 AM   Subscribe

Sigh. So, this question inspired me to sign up for the NY Cares Winter Wishes program. Which should be great, right? Except yesterday I got the letter from the kid and I don't think I can get her what she asked for.

She wants a bicycle and a helmet. I would love to get her a bicycle and a helmet. She's ten and wants a black and white bike, and when I was ten I got a black mountain bike for Christmas and it was the GREATEST THING EVER. I rode it like crazy. I posed for umpteen xmas photos in front of it, wearing the black puffy jacket that I thought made me look hard.

The problem is, I can't afford to buy a bicycle for a ten year old. I'm a grad student on a stipend. I signed up because the website said gifts averaged around 40 dollars. I'm estimating she'd need a 24 inch bike, and I can't even find a shitty bike that costs under a hundred in that size. And the shitty ones, as far as I can tell, are really crap, even if there were enough quarters in my change jar to coinstar up enough money to cover the difference and buy her one off amazon (which was the one way I came up with to make this work).

Thus I have two questions:
1. Do any New Yorkers know of some secret magical bike shop that has non-crappy kids' bikes for super cheap? I've been checking craigslist, but nothing suitable so far.
2. Is there any affordable present (under 50 bucks, I'd say) that would even slightly mitigate a ten year old's total disappointment at not getting a bicycle for Christmas? I feel like getting a scooter would be getting a stuffed animal when you'd asked for a puppy; nonetheless the chirpy little form letter that comes with the real letter instructs me not to worry if I can't fulfill the actual wish, and suggests alternatives. Thus I'm asking the advice of those with more insight into the ten year old psyche than I have.

I know nothing more about this girl than that her name is Brittney, that she lives in NYC somewhere, and that she drew a little stick figure drawing of herself riding a little stick figure bicycle in her letter, which is breaking my little stick figure heart.

Thanks all.
posted by felix grundy to Shopping (103 answers total) 72 users marked this as a favorite
What about posting on Craigslist explaining what you need and what it's for? If not that, what about posting to Freecycle? There's bound to be someone in the NY metro area that could be able to help.

I do this same thing in Chicago (Chicago Sun-Times Season of Sharing if anyone is looking for something similar out this way) and there have been a couple of times when I wasn't able to get what the kid wished for. In that case I got them something similar.
posted by sugarfish at 6:54 AM on November 25, 2008

Re: 1: Have you considered pawn shops? Some of the bike forums I frequent mention them for places where bikes are stolen relatively often and people want cheap ones.
posted by cobaltnine at 6:55 AM on November 25, 2008

Not an answer to your question, but I'll be happy to send you a check for $15 if you vow to use it toward a bike. PayPal works also. I'm also a student and can't comfortably afford to do what you're doing, but I can afford a share in someone's gift. MeFi mail me.
posted by halogen at 6:55 AM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

If the agency promised you ~ $40 gifts, maybe you could contact them and trade yours for a different one. I suggest doing this, in fact... It's awesome that you're willing to do this, don't let too-large demands make you feel bad. Please don't.

Seriously, contact the folks running the operation; someone else with more $$ will probably be into getting her a bike, and you should have the satisfaction and happiness of giving what you can.
posted by amtho at 6:58 AM on November 25, 2008

Walmart sells many bikes for under $100, and even a few under $50. They also sell helmets for $10, and bike locks for $15. They might not be daily commuter quality, but certainly a lot of fun for a kid. I think it'd make your girl's dreams come true for Christmas Day.

If it's still more than you are able to spend, do you have grad student friends or coworkers who'd be able to pool money?
posted by Gable Oak at 7:04 AM on November 25, 2008

I'll paypal you $10 if you end up needing it to close on a bike.

You need to find a good bike co-op. I imagine there are several good ones in NYC and hopefully some locals will be along to recommend some.
posted by mikepop at 7:06 AM on November 25, 2008

So, I wouldn't usually promote Wal-mart, but where I work was recently forced into using them to buy a group of bikes for incentives for our customers, and that is where we turned. I just checked,and I saw a 24" bike on there (girls too) that was just under $50. It won't be the best quality and I know a store may not be near you, but it might be worth looking into. Good luck.
posted by jmchrist at 7:08 AM on November 25, 2008

Good for you, felix grundy! This is a real act of kindness. And you can make it happen. Here are a couple of ideas:

Have a holiday potluck party, invite all your friends, and explain on the e-vite (or whatever you use) that it will be an awesome party with a twist: Have fun while raising money to grant a child's wish for a new bike and helmet. (The invitation should outline that contributions would be gratefully received but not required.)

You can also post fliers ("A Bike for Brittney!") and send an email around to your department at school asking for contributions.

Have everyone who contributes sign a card for Brittney.

With some legwork, you can make this happen. You will feel great, so will your friends who contribute, and most importantly, so will Brittney. You have a month until Christmas. Good luck honoring this commitment!
posted by isogloss at 7:09 AM on November 25, 2008 [6 favorites]

I can paypal you $50. This is a good thing you're doing.
posted by selfmedicating at 7:11 AM on November 25, 2008

Yeah, sign me up for at least $20 via Paypal, if still necessary. My only concern would be if the program discourages really extravagant gifts (so siblings don't get disparate value gifts or something).
posted by Rock Steady at 7:15 AM on November 25, 2008

I can chip in 10 bucks via Paypal too if you need it.
I think pooling resources is a win-win for your pocketbook and for the kid.
posted by pointystick at 7:20 AM on November 25, 2008

I signed up, too, and my main gift request wasn't a $40 request, either- the kid wants money to buy a pair of Jordans! Or a basketball, so I got the basketball. Before buying a bike and a helmet, I would call the agency that will be giving the kid the gift, to see if a bike will be appropriate- as mentioned above, if your kid gets a bike and my kid gets a basketball, the basketball might look pretty lame in comparison.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:23 AM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

You could also get information on the kid's size and what size of bike she would need.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:24 AM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

Yeah, what the fuck, I'd toss in ten bucks. Hit me up via MeFi Mail.
posted by kbanas at 7:42 AM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Wow, guys. Your generosity is making me tear up all over again.

I have called the agency to find out her height and whether this wouldn't be too extravagant; the woman managing this gift won't be in until this afternoon, so I'll try again then.

I plan to call around to bike shops that sell used bikes after I talk to Mildred and find out height requirements; then I'll know how much it'll cost and I'll know whether I'll even need all your generous contributions. I have some pretty bike-savvy friends, one of whom has already volunteered to go with me to make sure whatever I find isn't a total junker.

(re: Walmart: there aren't any round these parts. I'd have to get it shipped or go to Jersey. Which is possible—but as far as I could see the 24" bikes were definitely more than 50.)

(re: pawn shops: I really don't want to buy someone else's stolen bike to make another kid happy. That's dirty pool.)

(re: a potluck, etc.: it's a good idea, but I actually need to have this bike to the organization by the 1st, so I have one more class at my school, and then everyone dissipates for Thanksgiving, friends and fellow students alike. I'll bring it up before my seminar this afternoon, though.)
posted by felix grundy at 7:42 AM on November 25, 2008

have you looked at recycle-a-bike? they have two locations -- one one in the east village and one in Dumbo. i'm not sure about their prices but they sell used bikes.
posted by nanhey at 7:45 AM on November 25, 2008

I can't help with the NY-area specifics of finding a bike, but count me in on the PayPal support front. This is a lovely thing you're doing, and my MeFi mail account would be happy to be a part of it!
posted by Hellgirl at 7:49 AM on November 25, 2008

I'll fill in the Paypal blanks re: bikemoney if you need it.
posted by jessamyn at 7:51 AM on November 25, 2008

I can contribute via PayPal as well -- it's so worth seeing that this girl gets her bike! Just MeMail me with the rest -- you're doing a wonderful thing.
posted by vers at 7:57 AM on November 25, 2008

I can toss in $10 as well to help cover. Toss me a MeMail if you end up needing it :)
posted by Verdandi at 8:00 AM on November 25, 2008

I know the feeling. Send me a mail too if you're doing collections, I'd be happy to help out.
posted by notquitemaryann at 8:18 AM on November 25, 2008

I say we get the kid a non-crappy bike. Is it OK to send money via paypal to the email in your profile?
posted by mattbucher at 8:22 AM on November 25, 2008

My dad owned a bike shop for many years, and they would fix up old donated/abandoned kids bikes at the holidays for free and give them away to needy kids. So maybe if you can find something free/cheap that is in decent shape but needs a little TLC, contact a local bike store to see if they can donate an hour of their time to fix it up a bit.

I'll also chip in $10 if you need it, and keep us updated if you find a bike!

(In an effort to re-live my childhood I imagine my $10 going towards this really sweet pink handlebar basket with Snoopy on it that I had when I was a kid, but it probably doesn't exist any more, and it probably costs more than $10 these days if it did ;)
posted by sararah at 8:26 AM on November 25, 2008

Response by poster: Okay, I'm off to class. Will post again once I've done a bit more legwork. This is amazing, guys. I'm just trying to figure out how I can get all your signatures on the card.

I'll try recycle-a-bike first, to try to keep the goodness going around.
posted by felix grundy at 8:33 AM on November 25, 2008

I will be happy to contribute toward the bike and helmet as well. Let us know.
posted by govtdrone at 8:37 AM on November 25, 2008

Have you contacted transportation alternatives? I think they'd be a great local resource for you.

Also, Manhattan Velo may have what you're looking for or know where to send you.

Good luck!
posted by cestmoi15 at 8:44 AM on November 25, 2008

I'd be willing to PayPal $10, too.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:01 AM on November 25, 2008

I can send $10 too. What's your paypal address?
posted by klangklangston at 9:02 AM on November 25, 2008

I don't have a PayPal account but I am totally willing to send you a check (or cash, even). I don't want your little stick hear breaking.
posted by cooker girl at 9:06 AM on November 25, 2008

hearT. Dammit, HEART.
posted by cooker girl at 9:07 AM on November 25, 2008

I'll get $10 on it. MeMail your paypal address/ physical address?
posted by solipsophistocracy at 9:16 AM on November 25, 2008

I can chip in for $5.
posted by marsha56 at 9:38 AM on November 25, 2008

Oops. Meant to include that you can MeMail me too.
posted by marsha56 at 9:39 AM on November 25, 2008

So, uh... Lots of folks seem to be willing to kick in $10 or more bucks to the cause, more than enough to cover the bike. Can I derail a bit and ask folks to kick in towards other charities in their communities? In anticipation of fewer donors (due to the economic crisis) the organization I work for cut the number of families we serve through our 'adopt-a-family' program and still had to run a plea in the paper looking for donations.

There is a Brittany in every community and every $10 counts.

While I'm sure there must be a website out there that will point anyone to any local charity, agencies such as Salvation Army and Lutheran/Methodist/Catholic/Jewish/insert-prominent-religion-here Social Services are just about everywhere.
posted by wg at 9:41 AM on November 25, 2008 [8 favorites]

I'd be happy to contribute $10. MeMail me when you have your PayPal details worked out, if you don't mind.
posted by Lynsey at 9:41 AM on November 25, 2008

That same question also inspired me to sign up for the NY Cares program! I'd be happy to contribute to your bike fund as well - memail if still need donations :)
posted by bahama mama at 9:45 AM on November 25, 2008

Count me in too. Can I pitch in for a bike lock?
posted by zoomorphic at 9:53 AM on November 25, 2008

Awww felix you bighearted sap. You just got played by a ten-year-old! Next she'll be asking for free Greek tutoring.

(In for 10dollars on PP)
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:54 AM on November 25, 2008

If you are able, with all of the generous (!) contributors here, to get her a really nice bike keep in mind the bike will likely end up being passed on to younger siblings, other family, friends, etc and hence bring a lot of joy to a lot of kids! When our family sends gifts to less fortunate people we think of the extra use people will get out of our sending quality gifts when we can do that.
posted by mumstheword at 10:28 AM on November 25, 2008

I'm in for 10.00 too, in memory of soulbee.
posted by Rumple at 10:30 AM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

While I'm sure there must be a website out there that will point anyone to any local charity, agencies such as Salvation Army and Lutheran/Methodist/Catholic/Jewish/insert-prominent-religion-here Social Services are just about everywhere.

Actually, this very question inspired me to try and find a similar local program. It wasn't very easy, but I did manage to find one that operates our of a local library. If anyone knows of a web-based clearinghouse for this kind of info, this thread (and the Blue, for that matter) might be a good place to post it. I did find this Bay Area-based version, if people are interested.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:41 AM on November 25, 2008

I'm in for $10 also.
posted by ramix at 10:44 AM on November 25, 2008

Response by poster: Hey all—checking in really quickly before class. I'm going to stop by Manhattan Velo just after, since it's right across Union Square from me. Also, the email in my account seems to be the one that my paypal account is connected to, as someone's already sent me money. (Thanks!)

I will, again, post when I know what the bike I find costs. If I end up getting more money than that, I will donate it back into this program (they've got unfulfilled present requests still) or send it back to you if you prefer.

(PA, I'm even less able to greek tutor than to buy bicycles. You should know that, as I imagine you're in the same position.)
posted by felix grundy at 10:57 AM on November 25, 2008

Can I derail a bit and ask folks to kick in towards other charities in their communities? Borders and Barnes & Noble stores are doing buy-a-book-for kids things, at least here in ATL.
posted by pointystick at 11:25 AM on November 25, 2008

I'll happily kick in some fundage for the bike. Also I'm in Chelsea and can help you with logistics as I have some time on my hands this week. I can borrow a friend's car and drive us out to the Wal-Mart in Secaucus if you don't find something decent in the city. If there's anything else I can do to help you get the bike just shoot me an email and I'll give you my phone number.
posted by allkindsoftime at 11:44 AM on November 25, 2008

I'm in for $10 too ... if you get enough, can you try for a brand-spanking shiny new Christmas morning bike? It's so thrilling. I remember my girls in their pjs riding around and around each other like maniacs, bells ringing, streamers flying, shrieking at each new feature discovery ...
posted by thinkpiece at 12:03 PM on November 25, 2008

I'm wholeheartedly in for $15.

I vividly remember my brother and me getting new bikes Christmas morning, and it's an experience I wouldn't want any child wishing for it to go without.
posted by mrhaydel at 12:40 PM on November 25, 2008

I think it's awesome that so many people are willing to chip in to make this happen.

One further suggestion: if you get her a bike and a helmet, also get her a good lock so that she can be sure to *keep* her bike! (Looks like sondraliac beat me to it...I strongly second, though.)

Another suggestion for folks who are both generous and bike-minded: there's a great organization in Seattle called Bikeworks (www.bikeworks.org) that runs Earn-a-Bike programs--they teach kids how to work on and fix bikes, and after the kids have done some bike-repair community service, they get their own bikes from the program. They are great folks running a very popular and useful program and they could use all the support they can get!!

In fact, I just called the Bikeworks office and found out that there are programs like this all over the country. Not enough time to google and link them all, but some names she gave me are:

Bikes not Bombs--Massachusetts
Recycle a Bicycle--New York City
Neighborhood Bike Works--Philly
Chain Reaction--DC
Community Cycling Center and another Bikeworks in Portland, OR
Bicycle Kitchen in Santa Cruz and LA
posted by Sublimity at 12:47 PM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

Holy smokes, everyone! The contributions offered so far total $210!!! I wonder if we can figure out some way to harness the awesome charitable power of Metafilter for other worthwhile causes.
posted by jasper411 at 12:48 PM on November 25, 2008

I would contact Recycle a Bicycle, which has an afterschool program for kids. They take used bike donations, fix them up (and teach people how to fix them) and then sell them. There's a shop in DUMBO and in the East Village.

The NYC DOT was giving out 1,000 free helmets this summer at community events. Maybe you can call them up and see if they have any leftover.
posted by hooray at 12:53 PM on November 25, 2008

Response by poster: Okay. Bike lock is on the list.

I called Mildred; she says Brittney is a normal sized ten year old, so looks like 24" is about the right size. We also had a little bit of a communication problem, and she tried to convince me that it was okay if I couldn't get the bicycle, that I should just get her something like "a pocketbook she can put lipstick in."

I would have been so furious if someone had gotten me a pocketbook for Christmas when I was 10. I'm liking this little girl more all the time, and I'm so glad this is working out.

The NYC DOT thing requires that the person go there in person to be fitted for the helmet, with parents to sign a waiver if the kid is under eighteen; I don't want to assume that this will be an option for Brittney.

Off to call recycle-a-bicycle, walk to Manhattan Velo, and try to beat the crowds to the 4 train. More soon!
posted by felix grundy at 1:24 PM on November 25, 2008

If it's not too late, I'll put in on the bike or any accessories as well. Just MeMail me and I will PayPal the dough to you.
posted by reenum at 1:55 PM on November 25, 2008

Why not a scooter and an apology that says you're very sorry but you can't afford a bicycle? There's nothing wrong with telling a disadvantaged kid that even you, who might appear more advantaged than most, can't afford a bicycle in these hard economic times.
posted by onepapertiger at 2:16 PM on November 25, 2008

Mod note: a few comments removed - please either be on topic or part of the britney bike brigade, otherwise metatalk is fine for what iffery
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:14 PM on November 25, 2008

Response by poster: Update: called Recycle-a-Bicycle; they only have adult bikes for sale right now. I went to Manhattan Velo and they had a black and white 24" kid's bike (a Jamis mountain bike) on the floor for 200. It's about 35 for a helmet, 40 for a u-lock. (I figure a chain lock is a little heavy for a little kid to lug around; also I feel like little kids don't generally ride their bikes somewhere and then lock up, but tool around crazily on the streets and then take their bikes back inside.) The store has a three-year repair deal on new bikes you buy through them.

They also said they could order me a new one by the first; and I spend the whole ride back to Brooklyn looking at catalogs. I'm thinking about this guy: Jamis Laser 20". Or this one: Fuji Sanibel DX 24. Unfortunately it's now too late to call the bike store and get price estimates; the sites say these two are 225 and 300 something respectively, but the guy at the shop said the kids' bikes ran from 150 to 250 when he gave me the Fuji catalog, so I'm not sure what they'd actually be, ordered through the store. Maybe last year's models are cheaper than this year's, but there isn't a single price in either catalog, as far as I can see. I also called Frank's Bike Shop just now, and they're closing up but the super-friendly dude who picked up said he thought he could find me a black and silver kid's bike for around 150 to 200—but they're closed 'til Friday, so I'll have to wait until then and hope it works out.

So here's the part where you guys get to weigh in: should we veer towards mountain bikes, or cruisers? I feel like the kids I see on the streets, girls and boys alike, are tooling around on stocky little mountain bikes, though my own aesthetic sensibilities lean towards the Sanibel (which also seems a little more 'girly' without being all flowers and tassels, thus good for hedging bets on whether she's as tomboyish as I was/am). Also, bike people: Brittney is solidly under five feet, probably around 4'9", and I've been getting conflicting replies on what size bike is right for that size kid. I'm also leaning towards no derailleur, for simplicity.

I'm also willing to head out to the Walmart in Secaucus with Allkindsoftime (hi!); however, from what I've heard and what I've read about department store bikes, they are multiple sets of head and shoulders below even a middling bike shop bike. Fused in weird places, no quality control... If this is bike geek snobbery and you've heard otherwise, do let me know.
posted by felix grundy at 4:33 PM on November 25, 2008

As a $10 stakeholder, my inclination is toward a mountain bike, mostly because that's pretty much the only bike style I've had. The couple of cruisers that I've tooled around on have seemed far too heavy for the amount of utility you get out of them. Mountain bikes are heavy too, but you can throw them down a flight of stairs and have them still be rideable, and if I'd been on anything else the couple of times I got hit by cars, I'd both be in worse shape and have had to spend more on repairs.

On the other hand, tooling around LA, I frequently wish that I had a street bike, because my mountain bike IS pretty damn heavy (though construction's much better these days, since my bike is about nine years old).

Do you know what neighborhood she's in and anything about the bike culture there? Like, I know that in my neighborhood, all the shops are for chopping cruisers and it's all about the ape hangers and low riders, so for a kid I might get a bike like that so she could hook into the local shops. If I was in the bike district on the other side of town, well, maybe a fixie or something.
posted by klangklangston at 5:46 PM on November 25, 2008

Hey Felix, that is awesome.

Kinda off topic, but I feel like I'd be remiss if I didn't add:

I had an awesome huffy as a kid, here's the where to buy link, maybe call around?

As an adult riding in NYC, I like a ten speed with the thicker/mountain bike-type tires for best control over the terrain. Maybe others with kids can chime in, but I'm not sure ten year olds should be riding in the streets or if they need or can handle the gear shifts.

And just to get it off my chest, you may want to think about getting a book on how to ride a bike (do you know if she already knows how?)

And as a NYer who's seen waaay too much bike nonsense, and lives a hop-skip from a ghost bike, please, please, please think of including at least some info on bike safety, here's a few links from a quick and dirty google search here, here, and here, for a start. Maybe print out and include some info, addressed to the parents?

Lastly, it is wonderful that you've chosen to help others this season, I know you'll be doing a lot of good and feel great for doing so. I just want to mention another program you may be interested in, Operation Santa. You can go to the 8th ave post office and read through letters children have sent to Santa. You register once and are then assigned a number that makes it easier after the first time. You can choose whichever letter/s you'd like, so you don't get assigned a bike:)... seriously, a lot of children just want a warm coat. Also, don't be afraid to hit up people in your classes for cash for this, works even better in an office after you graduate.
posted by cestmoi15 at 5:49 PM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

just wanted to offer some more support.
i know nothing about bikes except that they're fun, so i'll paypal you $10 (i'm a lowly student) if it will help and if you're still short some money.

this thread made my day.
posted by gursky at 7:24 PM on November 25, 2008

This is the most heart warming thing I've read online in a long time. MetaFilter, you rule! I'm in for a ten spot.

PS Jessamyn, thanks for tweeting about this. The awesomeness is making me teary.
posted by fenriq at 8:34 PM on November 25, 2008

felix, how much money in total have you amassed? If it's not yet over the ~$300 limit, I'll happily make it so. And I'd veer towards a 24" mt bike type thing from a real bike shop, because it'd be the most versatile and last for many years if she took care of it and locked it up.
posted by mathowie at 8:51 PM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

I just sent my $10. Every kid should have a bike.
posted by paulg at 9:01 PM on November 25, 2008

I got my bike from someone selling it second-hand at a university - still pretty good quality. Maybe try your school and see if anyone's selling?

I'd like to chip in too. Does anyone know of similar ways to help in Australia?
posted by divabat at 9:22 PM on November 25, 2008

Response by poster: gursky, fenriq, it's made my day as well. so much so that I didn't even get grumpy when I got home from manhattan and realized my roommates had left the oven on all day—which, hello, DANGER POINT.

She can ride a bike already—Mildred specifically said no training wheels. I will be sure to print out some bike safety info.

So I was nattering on to clockwork about this over dinner and he pointed out, quite rightly, that if I'm going to get her a bicycle with a repair warranty I should take the extra time to do it in her neighborhood if I can. I imagine that she doesn't live near Union Square, so I'm going to wait and call Mildred in the afternoon again tomorrow, in order to find out the borough at least. The drop off is in Brooklyn, so perhaps she's here too. I hope so. I like Bicycle Station a lot and I'd like to go to them if I can.

Mathowie, I've already gotten 70 bucks or so through PayPal even without having a bike figured out. I've got 50 of my own in it. 35 of the PayPal stuff is obviously from people who've said something here; I can't tell about the other half. There's about 250 in exact dollar amounts offered up here; plus a few more ten spots via memail, and those who have said they'd chip in but not how much. Assuming most people follow through, we should hit 300 or so easily.

This is so great, guys. I am so excited about getting Brittney her bike.
posted by felix grundy at 9:24 PM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

Target also sells bikes, and there's one in Brooklyn and one in Queens. Just saying, in case you change your mind.

Also, I bought a folding bike from Wal-Mart a few years ago for under $100 and expected the worst. (I had to buy it on credit at the time, or have no wheels at all). It was an awesome bike and I sold it two years later to a British guy here for the summer who emailed later to say he'd taken the bike all over the US. Not all Wal-Mart bikes suck.

anyway, just paypalled you $10. thanks to jessamyn for tweeting or i wouldn't have seen this either.
posted by micawber at 9:43 PM on November 25, 2008

divabat: there are several 'give a present' organised drives in Aust. I don't know any where you get a specific request to fulfil, but Target and Kmart stores usually have a place to donate a labelled present (ie: tag with 'girl, 5-7'). There's a Motorcycle Toy Run from Nudgee to Wynnum soon, or many businesses run present drives in connection with a local charity, such as REIQ doing one for foster kids in Queensland.

Failing that, all the churches I was involved in as a kid had some organised christmas present donations that were distributed through St Vincents or the Salvos, etc.
posted by jacalata at 3:25 AM on November 26, 2008

I just paypal'd you a donation (plus a little extra to cover the fees). Thanks for doing this, and for making sure she knows that Santa is 'real'. Please post a photo of the Bike before you drop it off.
posted by anastasiav at 8:17 AM on November 26, 2008 [3 favorites]

Duh. I'm an idiot. I forgot about fees. So glad you mentioned it anastasiav.

If you're using PayPal, felix grundy may be charged a fee to get your money. Check the fees page and the cross border fees page if that applies to you.

Sorry for stating the bleepin' obvious to the clued-in 99% here, just a friendly reminder for the clueless 1% like me.
posted by marsha56 at 9:49 AM on November 26, 2008

I just saw this and it's about a bike so I'm sending you some money via PayPal. If you raise enough maybe you could sponsor a second child? Anyway, thanks for doing this. I carefully assemble all the bikes my co-workers buy for our Secret Santa (we sponsor kids in a homeless shelter in Philly) and donate a few myself and I know that the kids are blown away.
posted by fixedgear at 11:13 AM on November 26, 2008

Response by poster: Hi all—I talked to Mildred just now, and Brittney lives over off York Street, in
Farragut Houses

It's pretty far from Bicycle Station, so I've put a call in to my bike geek friend who grew up near there to see which of the bike shops over there she recommends. I've been to the place on Atlantic just past Smith, and was fairly indifferent to it; if anyone's been to a good place over there, please tell me about it.

I am trying to write notes to everyone who has sent money so far, but I need to run and do some thanksgiving stuff and schoolwork, so I may not be in touch until late this evening when my brainpower is totally wound down.

fixedgear, the cutoff for sponsoring more Winter Wishes kids is today, so I may not be able to do it directly—though perhaps if they have more unsponsored kids, they'll extend it. I may look into the program that cestmoi15 mentioned, if there's extra moolah and no one minds the switch.

*from the link: NAMED AFTER: DAVID GLASGOW FARRAGUT (1801 – 1870) – The first Admiral of the U.S. Navy, Farragut was one of the most colorful commanders of the Civil War. He was the most famous Hispanic on the Union Forces during the war. He was born James Glasgow Farragut, son of seafarer who came from an island off Spain. David Porter, a navy officer adopted him after the Farraguts saved Porter's unconscious father from a drifting boat. He changed his name to David Glasgow Farragut. He went to sea with Porter at age 8 and became a midshipman before he was 10. He saw combat at 11 and commanded his first ship at 12. In 1864 he was summoned from New York to lead the attack on Mobile Bay, the last Confederate stronghold on the Gulf of Mexico. When one of his lead ships struck a torpedo and sank and his ships were reluctant to proceed, he rallied his men to victory, shouting: "Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead."
posted by felix grundy at 12:02 PM on November 26, 2008

You've got so much on your plate already. PLEASE don't worry about responding to all the notes you're getting. Your updates here are perfect. Just let us know how we can help. Take care.
posted by marsha56 at 12:23 PM on November 26, 2008

Seconding marsha56: no personal responses necessary, just update this thread. And I also forgot about the PayPal fees, so post if the total comes up a bit short.
posted by paulg at 6:12 PM on November 26, 2008

Response by poster: Hi again—no word yet from the friend; we were supposed to get together on Friday anyways so I'll just make that a bicycle-oriented get-together. I found out just now that Bicycle Station moved—further away from me but closer to Brittney—so if there's nothing better that's closer, it might actually be a viable option. She's really close to the DUMBO Recycle-a-Bicycle, but according to the internet reviews that place isn't all that welcoming, despite its noble endeavors.

I've gotten about $265 (!) through paypal, which seems like it should be enough (even for the bell that some of it was earmarked for), so if anyone else was planning to send money maybe hold off or send it somewhere local, like wg suggested?

I think it makes sense to try to get her a bike shop bike in her neighborhood rather than a Target bike from Atlantic Center—they do cost more, but should hold up better. Also I am kind of hoping she can develop a relationship with the store, so that she'll be more interested in taking care of her bicycle.
posted by felix grundy at 6:29 AM on November 27, 2008

This is an absolutely awesome story....I love Metafilter.

It sounds like you're going to be good on money, but if you find yourself a little short, MeMail me and I'll be more than happy to contribute.
posted by DMan at 4:40 PM on November 27, 2008

Metafilter rocks.

Does anyone know if there's anything like this in London, UK?
posted by Augenblick at 6:56 AM on November 28, 2008

Response by poster: Update: talked to Mike, the owner of Bicycle Station, this afternoon. I explained the situation to him and he's going to try to get me a black and white Jamis X-24, last year's model, and he said we could fudge the numbers to make it all come in under 300 with the lock and the helmet, if it didn't do so naturally. (Bicycle Station, Brooklyn people. Bicycle Station. Highly recommended.) They have a three year deal on new bikes, too. Maybe that's standard, I don't know.

(It has more gears than I wanted, but hey, she doesn't have to use them. And they aren't that hard to deal with as long as they're in working order.)

Unfortunately, Jamis is closed today, so he can't order it until Monday.

Fortunately, I talked to Mildred again, and it's no problem if the bike gets there a little late. I was prepared to have to just pony up the helmet and lock and a nicely written little I.O.U., but: unnecessary!

Now I can turn my efforts to figuring out how to wrap the thing.
posted by felix grundy at 2:01 PM on November 28, 2008

With regards to wrapping, how about the traditional giant red bow?

Barring that, I don't guess it would be feasible to go to a big box retailer and see if you can snag a big refrigerator box or something, and put the bike in that?

Granted, no 10 year old would ever think they're really getting a fridge for Christmas (at least, I wouldn't think so), but, getting to see a giant box there for you to open (even if it is isn't technically wrapped, you could still put a big bow on the bike inside the box)?

It might kind of be a neat experience for her to get to open a really large box and maybe be thrown off a bit by the markings on the outside of it.
posted by mrhaydel at 2:13 PM on November 28, 2008

This place has bags for bikes up to 27". They're in Illinois. But they might be able to overnight it.

Or there must be places in NY that would sell ginormous gift bags. Maybe the guy at the bike shop would have some good ideas.

Or maybe it's time for another AskMeFi.
posted by marsha56 at 5:34 PM on November 28, 2008

Response by poster: Update: Jamis was out of the 2008 X-24s, so this guy is on its way. I hope it pleases all the stakeholders.

I think I'll just go with a bow on it and wrap the helmet and lock. A box that big is obviously either a bike or a cruel joke, right?
posted by felix grundy at 2:12 PM on December 3, 2008 [3 favorites]

great choice, felix grundy.
posted by Rumple at 3:32 PM on December 3, 2008

That is one STYLIN' kid bike!

Nice work, Felix Grundy, and a big thanks to Mike at Bicycle Station and the generous folks at MeFi for making it happen!

I wonder if it'd be possible to get pics online of the happy recipient with her present?
posted by Sublimity at 4:59 PM on December 3, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks Rumple, thanks Sublimity. Thanks all, really!

I don't know what the NY Cares deal is—whether I hear anything back after dropping the bike off. Whatever follow up I get, I will certainly post. I've been meaning to upload the original letter, anyways.

I'm still trying to figure out what to write on the card, but I have a few days before the bike gets here.
posted by felix grundy at 5:41 PM on December 3, 2008

How about:

Merry Christmas and ride safely!

The Internet
posted by Rock Steady at 6:50 PM on December 3, 2008

Felix, I think it would be great to just tell the story as it happened. You picked her wish, you didn't have enough money to buy a bike yourself, so you wrote about it on the intenet and a lot of people who think bikes are awesome chipped in to make it possible for you to get one. Lots of good lessons there: that people can do great things by working together, that the world is full of kind people, and of course many people agree that bikes totally rock. She may already be aware of that last point.

Heck, why not just print out this discussion and enclose it along with your own sentiments? Maybe edit out the, um, grown-up words, first. (Merry Christmas, Brittney! I love biking too and ride my bike in Seattle all the time. I really hope you'll always wear your helmet-- and remember, it's got to be snapped closed under your chin to work, otherwise it'll fall off your head in an accident and won't be there to protect your head!)

At the very least, I'll bet the Winter Wishes folks would love to read the discussion.
posted by Sublimity at 10:21 PM on December 3, 2008 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Hey all—this is probably the second to last update. The bike finally came in on Friday, and Bicycle Station built it up by Saturday; unfortunately the community center is closed on weekends and BS is closed Mondays—but yesterday, finally, a friend and I wheeled Brittney's bike over through RAMBO through the flurries, and delivered it to Mildred. (There's a park right across the street, so I hope she can ride it over there and not just in the streets.)

I didn't manage to get a picture, because I had to wrap the helmet and the lock once we got there, and by the time I was done doing that, one of the helpers had taken the bike and squirreled it away in a storage space, and I felt like demanding its return would be more about me than was really to the point. Sorry, stakeholders! I did get him to take the bow I got and put it on the bike for me.

The card (one of the ones I got free from this shop—run by a fellow mefite—when I got my mom a Tetris t-shirt last year) said " Dear Brittney, Enjoy your bicycle and be safe! Love, Katie and the Internet" in red ink. I drew a little map to Bicycle Station and taped it in, with address, phone number, and the explanation that they would help her take care of her bike for the next three years. I also printed out this whole thread, grown up words and all, and gave it to Mildred, along with a shorter, spoken version, and told her that the bike had a service warranty through Bicycle Station, which she seemed to think was pretty neat. (I'm never quite sure how to describe Metafilter to other people, especially when I'm talking about this thread; I guess "Community Weblog" would do but it doesn't seem to do enough.)

Apparently the kids are supposed to send thank you notes, so that will be the last update, I suppose. Thanks, again, to everyone who made this happen. What's up, my community?
posted by felix grundy at 1:14 PM on December 17, 2008 [35 favorites]

You are made of win and awesome. thanks for the update.
posted by divabat at 2:06 PM on December 17, 2008 [2 favorites]

You study philosophy? LOL What are you going to do with that??? You'll never use it in the real world.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:33 PM on December 17, 2008 [1 favorite]

Lovely, thanks for the update!
posted by fixedgear at 2:48 PM on December 17, 2008

This thread has me all teared up.

That bike is a beautiful dream-on-wheels for a ten-year-old girl. Riding around on that thing, the city will be hers.

Good work, all of you!
posted by bookish at 3:21 PM on December 17, 2008

Yay! Awesome and great. Please don't forget to update us if you get a thank you note. I'd like to see the MetaFilter community do this kind of thing en masse next year -- let's remember and get some kind of MeFi Santa Challenge going, OK everyone?
posted by Rock Steady at 3:58 PM on December 17, 2008 [7 favorites]

This is great stuff, guys. Good work!
posted by crossoverman at 4:05 PM on December 17, 2008

Response by poster: Whoa. Had I known this was going to get sidebarred, I would have done a little more proof-reading up there.

I will be absolutely sure to post the thank you when/if it comes.

PA, are you drunk or something? I'm tempted to ask you what philosophy has to do with bicycles, but then I seem to be entangled in your question.
posted by felix grundy at 4:57 PM on December 17, 2008

wow, this is amazing. faith in humanity = restored
posted by R_Nebblesworth at 5:44 PM on December 17, 2008

Next year let me come help, dammit. :) Good on you. An extra helping of peace be with you this Christmas.
posted by allkindsoftime at 9:00 AM on December 18, 2008

I was just thinking about how negative certain people are about the study of abstractions, and yet how the studiers are often full of giving and niceness brought on by extended contemplation rather than being the stereotype of an uncaring navelgazer. Also yes I am drunk.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:15 PM on December 18, 2008 [7 favorites]

Oh wow. You guys rule. My eyes keep watering for some reason.

There's nothing so pure as bike-love on Christmas morning. I would have loved to be apart of this, but I think I'll go do what I can to help someone else this season.
posted by gofargogo at 2:28 PM on December 18, 2008

*weepy* i'm sorry now i didn't see this thread originally. you all are totally awesome.
posted by CitizenD at 11:56 AM on December 19, 2008

Oh, that's beautiful. Yay!
posted by goo at 2:14 PM on December 19, 2008

Metafilter: is your new bicycle.
also: damn, I totally missed this thread.
posted by _dario at 4:44 PM on December 21, 2008

I wonder if Brittney will realise that all across the world a few hundred, maybe even a few thousand people will be thinking of her on Christmas day.

Merry Christmas Brittney!

Metafilter : Stay Safe!

posted by fullerine at 1:58 AM on December 22, 2008

I just saw this and wow threads like this make metafilter great! Wish I would have seen it earlier so I could have helped.
posted by Mastercheddaar at 10:14 AM on December 24, 2008

Sheldon Brown is smiling down on all of you.
posted by Wild_Eep at 7:11 PM on December 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

I missed the initial thread, but I see that you were working with Bicycle Station -- as a happy new year gift, let me just mention that Bicycle Station is KING. They are right near me, and they fix my bike regularly and are awesome. So if he took care of you through this, Britney is guaranteed a good bike.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:59 AM on December 29, 2008

Response by poster: Umm. It's been a while, I know, but in case the relevant person is following this in their recent activity: did someone make a donation to NY Cares in my name? They seem to think I've given them more money than would ever be possible, and I'm trying to figure out why.
posted by felix grundy at 7:01 PM on May 27, 2009 [3 favorites]

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