Lockport Resource Center turning bikes into scholarship money for students

Volunteer fixing the tire on a children's bike during the 2023 bike clean up day.

Lockport — Residents of Homer and Lockport townships looking to clear some space in their garage or who may be in the market for an affordable bicycle will have the opportunity to do both and support local students in May when the Lockport Resource Center hosts its annual bike clean-up and sale event.

The Lockport Resource Center has once again partnered with the Lockport Police Department and Cross of Glory Church in Homer Glen to collect and recycle bikes and scooters to support the Transformation Scholarship Fund.

Donations of used bicycles, tricycles and scooters are being taken by the Lockport Police Department and can be dropped off during business hours through May 17.

On Saturday, May 18, volunteers from the police department and Lockport Resource Center, as well as volunteers from other community groups and students seeking community service hours, will gather to clean-up, fix and catalogue the bikes so they can find new homes.

“On Saturday, we’ll have volunteers clean the bikes and do safety checks on all the bikes, then we inventory them and take photos to post online,” Lockport Resource Center event organizer Cean Magowsky said.

“We take everything. We like them as nice as possible, but rough bikes can work for parts for other bikes too.”

—  Cean Magowsky, Lockport Resource Center

The bike sale started as a small activity after Magowksy fixed up a few donated bikes from the Resource Center thrift shop for clients of the organization to use for work. But when requests kept coming, he partnered with the police to expand it into a larger event.

The sale moved from an in-person parking lot activity to an online sale through Facebook in 2020, because of the pandemic, but has had great success in that form with 2020′s sale setting a record for bikes sold.

Magowsky said the organization receives between 75 and 100 bike donations each year and usually ends up selling between 50 and 75.

“Some bikes are a little too rough to be resold, but we still take them because they can be used as donors for other bikes with broken parts,” Magowsky said. “We work with a group that then takes away the scrap we can’t use to recycle it, so nothing goes to waste.”

Once bikes are back in good condition, the volunteers transport them to Cross of Glory Church, where they are catalogued, tagged for sale and stored for pick-up. Magowsky said they try to keep the prices low, so low-income families can afford to buy them, with most bikes selling for between $5 and $50.

Bikes waiting for sale at Cross of Glory Church in Homer Glen during the 2023 bike sale.

“We list everything on Facebook, and they are first-come-first-served. People can email us or use Facebook messenger to say which bike they want,” Magowsky said. “Once in a while we get something really rare that comes in that we know there will be demand for, so we will list that separately as an auction.”

Some of the items that have been auctioned in the past include a tandem bicycle, an adult tricycle and a bike that automatically shifted gears. While Magowsky noted that those bikes sell for more than most of the sale’s items, they also tend to go for less than they would on other secondhand platforms like Ebay.

After the sale, payments are due through Paypal, and the bikes can be retrieved from Cross of Glory on June 1.

Helping local students

All proceeds from the auction go to fund the Lockport Resource Center’s Transformation Scholarship Fund, which provides three, $1,000 scholarships for students seeking any type of higher education from Homer or Lockport townships.

Scholarships are determined based on need, which is evaluated based on student essays explaining how the scholarship would transform their life.

Magowsky noted that some preference is given to nontraditional students, including first generation college students or adults going back to school. Several former volunteers with the Lockport Resource Center also have received scholarships in years past. The money can be used towards attending a four-year college, community or junior college, or for pursuing technical or trade school.

The Lockport Resource Center is located at 106 MacGregor Road, Lockport. The center and police department are still seeking volunteers for the clean-up day but ask that interested parties register ahead of time by contacting the Lockport Resource Center on Facebook or emailing lockportresource@gmail.com.

Magowsky encourages anyone with a bike or scooter they don’t use to consider donating it, even if it is something they think isn’t useful. Accessories like helmets and training wheels can also be donated.

“We take everything,” he said. “We like them as nice as possible, but rough bikes can work for parts for other bikes too. Some old ‘scrap’ bikes are worth more than you think. We’ve had several vintage bikes come in that there is a lot of demand for once they’re cleaned up. Everything is welcome. We will take it and make it work.”