Fitters Bikes for Tikes continues to branch out each year. We started the first year with 121 bikes, grew to 522 bikes the second year, more than 1,100 the third year, over 1,700 fourth year, and 1,840 last year and 1,594 bikes this year. Each bike includes a bike helmet for the proud new owner. The bikes were purchased by Local 598 and their Signatory Contractors, Local 598 members, Bechtel employees at the Vitrification Plant and other Local 598 job sites. Donations also came from local businesses and the community. More than 480 completed bikes were then handed over to the Marines Toys for Tots for distribution to the kids. The remaining bikes were donated to other various local charities and schools, Attendance Matters and local libraries Read a Book programs.
Local 598 members were joined by more than 400 students from seven schools to uncrate and assemble more than 1550 bikes. The build took place at Benton Franklin County Fairgrounds on the morning of December 11th. It took less than four hours to complete the 1,550 bikes. The remaining bikes were given unassembled and delivered to schools in small towns surrounding Tri-Cities. Most of the students had never assembled a bicycle so each work station had a craftsman or community leader there to teach the students. By the end of the build, these high school students had gained a new-found confidence in building things with their hands. We would like to thank the participating schools that supplied Santa's helpers; Richland High School, Prosser High School, Pasco High School, Riverview High School, Columbia Burbank High School, Chiawana High School and Tri-Tech Vocational School.
Among the many community volunteers who helped at the bike build were Local Building and Metal Trade Union members and employees from Bechtel, Energy Northwest, Areva, MSA, ChPRC, WRPS, WCH, Williams Plant Services, Hire Electric, Edward Jones, Franklin PUD, Shriners, Richland Firefighters, United Way, Young Leaders Society and various local business and government officials. A hot lunch was donated and served to the crew by Country Gentlemen Restaurant. UA Local 598 and their Signatory Contractors would like to thank all of those involved in the bike build and those involved in the fundraising effort to purchase the bikes and helmets. Many thanks to the community and all those who came together to make a Happy Holiday Season for so many kids!