Building off the success of a project that began in 2008 to provide needy Israeli children with bicycles, Yehoshua Wolman decided to step up his efforts with a crowdfunding campaign to reach even more children.
Wolman explained that several years ago, he took a course in bicycle mechanics and decided he wanted to use his expertise to benefit children in Israel.
“I established an organization called bicycles4israel, which aimed to take used bicycles, which were donated by the Toronto Jewish community, repair them if needed, and ship them to Israel,” said Wolman, who currently works in a bike shop in Toronto.
He said that following an article about his project that ran in The CJN in 2008, he gathered about 200 bikes from Toronto’s Jewish community.
“These bikes were beaten up, and some were scrap, so I decided initially to repair them and send them to Israel… and my counterpart in Israel did the legwork to see if it was feasible,” Wolman said.
He said that tariffs and fees for the shipment made it too expensive. He decided instead to sell the bikes in Toronto, and used the funds to purchase bikes in Israel for needy kids.
“I decided to continue repairing bikes and have periodic bike sales from my garage, and over the years I got a following. I had repeat customers and all the money collected went into a special account,” he explained.
Wolman said that in late 2015 he contacted his friends in Israel and asked them to find “a good shop that would provide the best deal.”
In January, Wolman travelled to Israel and was able to purchase 40 bicycles that were given to needy children in Safed.
“Religious kids don’t play much sports, so their greatest joy is a bicycle. It’s recreational and also for transportation to yeshiva or cheder or whatever,” Wolman said.
“It went off with great success and great emotion,” he said, with a quiver in his voice. “I said, ‘I can’t stop now.’ I knew I wasn’t going to wait another seven years to sell enough bikes to purchase more bikes in Israel.”
He said his friend suggested he start a crowdfunding campaign to call on members of the community to donate to the cause.
“I had never heard of Go Fund Me, but I spoke to a friend and he suggested this website and it sounded good and I’m in the midst of it right now,” he said.
He started collecting for the crowdfunding campaign in February and so far has raised more than $400 of his $20,000 goal, which he hopes to reach by June. He hopes the $20,000 will translate into about 100 bikes.
Wolman said the reaction from the community about his ambition has been nothing but positive.
“They’re giving me good vibes,” he said with a laugh.
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