Merchant seeking used bikes for holiday giveaway


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The floor has been swept.

The lighting has been improved.

The parts and tools are within arm's reach at each of the work stations.

Jerry Kraynick and his volunteer bicycle mechanics are ready.

All they need are bikes, especially children's bikes. And that's the problem.

Collecting enough bikes for needy children ages 3 to 12 has been getting harder every season for Mr. Kraynick, now in his fifth year as co-director of the Bike Before Christmas program with Pittsburgh police Officer Melissa Gutch.

"We'd like to make even more kids happier this Christmas," said Mr. Kraynick, who owns and operates Kraynick's Bike Shop in Garfield.

"It's a wonderful program that brings the police and community together," said Officer Gutch.

It all began in the fall of 2004 when Pittsburgh police Officer Kevin McNamara from the East Liberty station walked into the bike shop. He said there were some unclaimed bikes at the station and asked Mr. Kraynick if he would "tune them up" so they could be given as Christmas presents to youngsters whose families couldn't afford to buy them new ones.

Mr. Kraynick repaired about 40 bikes in 2004, 160 in 2005, 230 in 2006 and 400 last year. He said the credit for the growing success of the program goes to the people who donate the bikes, Officer Gutch and her fellow officers who collect them and the amateur and professional bike mechanics who volunteer their services to repair them.

Looking to the suburbs, the program got a big boost last year when the Fox Chapel Area High School basketball team donated more than 50 new bikes. "The kids did a great job," said varsity head coach Ben O'Connor. "The response was overwhelming. I was very proud of them. We haven't determined what our holiday project will be this year."

Officer Gutch asked to be contacted at 412-937-3051 before any large donations are made. The deadline for such donations is Dec. 1 so the bikes can be checked and properly stored.

The children who receive the bikes are identified by more than 40 churches, youth organizations and social service agencies. Hinkel-Hoffman distributors on the North Side donates space to store them after they are repaired.

If a donated bike can't be repaired, Mr. Kraynick salvages any usable parts. If a bike is too big for a child, he repairs it and sells it to buy parts he needs for the children's bikes.

Officer Gutch and Mr. Kraynick, each of whom learned to ride a bike when they were kids, share a common belief: Every child should have a bike -- and a helmet.

And, beginning Monday, they need help to make that happen again this year.

So, if there's a bike suitable for a child in the attic, basement, garage or shed that you'd like to donate to the program, take it to Mr. Kraynick's bike shop at 5003 Penn Ave., Garfield, during the following hours only: 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays except Wednesday and from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays.

Bikes also can be dropped off anytime at the city's five police stations.

Zone 1, 1501 Brighton Road, North Side; Zone 2, 2000 Centre Ave., Hill District; Zone 3, 1725 Mary St., South Side; Zone 4, 5858 Northumberland St., Squirrel Hill, and Zone 5, 1401 Washington Blvd., East Liberty; and Zone 6, 312 S. Main St., West End.

The Allegheny County Bar Association is offering free copies of its booklet, "The Truth About Probate & Living Trusts in Pennsylvania" until Dec. 31.

"We want to combat misleading information that the public may have seen, so we want to make it as easy as possible to get the information to those who need it," said attorney Christine Kornosky, chairwoman of the Probate and Trust Law Section of the association.

To receive a copy of the six-page booklet, call the bar association at 412-261-6161 or send an e-mail to Tom Loftus, director of marketing and media relations, at tloftus@acba.org.

The widow I wrote about last week was conned out of more than $4,000 -- not more than $10,000 -- by scammers who requested money up front to find a buyer for her time share near Williamsburg, Va. She said she reduced the price of the double unit by $10,000.


Lawrence Walsh can be reached at pyp@post-gazette.com and 412-263-1895.


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