Campus News

Giving back

Caroline Twiggs

UGA employees, students volunteer during National Day of Service on King holiday

With freezing temperatures and the day off work, Brent Buice and Peter Norris could have stayed at their homes on the couch, but instead the duo braved the elements and headed to the BikeAthens shop as part of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Day of Service.

They and 13 other volunteers sorted bicycle tires, deconstructed bicycles, took inventory of bicycles still needing repairs, did landscaping work and thoroughly cleaned up the Chase Street Warehouse shop that houses BikeAthens, a nonprofit organization which promotes alternative transportation and features programs such as bike recycling.

In total about 400 Athens residents spent their holiday volunteering as part of the national day of service. Organized by Community Connection and Hands on Northeast Georgia, there were 14 volunteer sites including greenway clean ups, elementary school landscaping and historically African-American cemetery clean-ups scattered across the county. 

“It’s important to take this day, and not just use it to lay around on the couch,” said Buice.  “There’s a message and a reason why we have this day off and it’s to remember the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. and his ideas for service.”

Buice, a business manager in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences’ Office of Academic Advising, is also shop manager at the BikeAthens Bike Recycling Program. He said it was inspiring to see all the energetic and helpful volunteers who came out.

Caroline Twiggs, a graduate student and intern in the Office of Service-Learning, helped to organize the shop’s tables and tools and sort bicycle tires by size.

She said it was the first time she’d actually volunteered on the King holiday and that normally she likes to participate in marches, but this year she decided to give back to the community. She heard about the day of service through school and went to where volunteers were needed the most.

“I always do something to commemorate Martin Luther King,” she said.

The bike recycling program has been around since 2003, ­according to Norris, an IT manager in the College of Education dean’s office, and treasurer of the group. The organization takes donated bicycles, not all of which are in riding condition, and using spare parts, repairs the bikes to rideable condition. Since its inception, the bike recycling program has refurbished more than 200 donated bicycles, which it provides to local homeless shelters, social service agencies and elementary schools.

“The bike recycling shop is always very busy with volunteers trying to put bikes together,” Buice said. “So this is just a great opportunity to get the shop organized so we can work more effectively when we’re actually recycling the bicycles—doing the work the shop was designed to do.”