Five years, five neighborhoods, 5,000 bikes

Remember the excitement of your first bike?

Many kids in West Michigan had never felt that excitement; had never had a bike
to call their own. Until Elves & More came along.

Elves & More West Michigan is a non-profit founded in 2005 by three friends,
including Liz Bracken and Marcia Borowka of Grand River Bank in Grandville. In
its first five years, the group raised funds to provide more than 5,000 bikes and
helmets to families living in Grand Rapids neighborhoods designated at or below
the poverty level.

Throughout the year, Elves & More gathers donations and holds fundraisers to
purchase new bikes. In December, hundreds of volunteers assemble the bikes
and distribute them to the selected neighborhood. The neighborhood is kept a
secret until the day of delivery.

Bikes are given to children ages four to 17; children under the age of four receive
treasure boxes filled with books, toys, hats, mittens and clothes. Delivery day
finds a thousand or more joyful children riding off on their new bikes or taking
home their treasure boxes.

When told the new bike was his to keep, one little boy wrapped his arms around
the knees of the volunteer.“Youʼre better than Santa Claus,” he said.