Cambodian children enjoy their new bikes. Courtesy of 88Bikes.
Is there any greater pleasure for a kid than receiving a bike for Christmas?
I still remember racing down the stairs on Christmas day so many years ago to find a big red bow swaddling my first ride, a black-and-antifreeze-green Huffy Thunder Road complete with Velco-fastened foam pads around the tubes and a pleated, black banana seat. It made no difference that the bike was a complete tank, nor that I was receiving it only because my older brother had gotten too big. That bike was mine, and I spent the next few years cruising the neighborhoods on it with friends, launching off wooden jumps that we erected in the streets and trying (futiley on such a heavy machine) to learn to wheelie.
For Christmas this year, my brother and I are buying our two-year-old nephew his first bike, a Kazam balance bike. I'm buzzing just thinking about how much fun he'll have. As I was wrapping it up the other day, though, I contemplated all the kids (and adults) who may never experience that joy because they don't have the access or the means to get their own bikes. A surprising number of charities out there are working to fill that gap, and for those of us who love the bike they are a great way to give back for the holidays. Here are a few of our favorites. Know of others? Tell us about them.