Recycled Bicycles: Local company donates to international students

Savannah Chastain
Destin United Methodist Church volunteers, Nicholai Dalie and Cedric “CC” Fearson stand with Rent Gear Here owner, Phillip Poundstone and employee Bryan Wibben.

When Phillip Poundstone heard that Destin United Methodist Church (Destin UMC) and the international student bike ministry had a need for bikes he knew he was just the guy for the job. As the owner of Rent Gear Here, a company that offers rental bikes and vacation gear to visitors along the Emerald Coast, Poundstone decided that this was the opportunity he had been waiting for.

“Every year we retire bikes from our fleet and it means a lot more to us to give them to a noble cause then to try to sell them for a nominal fee,” he said.

Poundstone told The Log that this is the second year for the rental business, but the first time the bikes have needed retirement.

 “The bikes are still nice, just not cosmetically up to our standard,” he said of the 26 bikes donated.

He added that all of the bicycles are in working condition, and had received a tune-up earlier that morning. 

The donated bicycles will be raffled off during a welcome dinner for international students at the Destin UMC on Sunday night. During the dinner, students will be given tickets for the bike raffle and other door prizes.

“The international kids in the community know that Destin United Methodist Church is very helpful in finding out information for them,” said Cedric “CC” Fearson, who is helping with the project.

Fearson explained that Destin UMC has partnered with St. Andrews By-the-Sea Episcopal Church to gather bikes for the event.

“St. Andrews will be handling the bikes from the event on, we are just partnering with them,” he said, adding that safety lights will be installed on each bicycle prior to the raffle give-away.

The international students that come to work in Destin throughout the year are often referred to as J1 students based on the visa they operate on. Under the visa, the students are given housing, and are paid to work in job placements all over the city.

“They’re from all over,” said Fearson, listing China, Thailand and Moldova as just a few of the countries the students represent. They come over here, they work, and they get to enjoy the experience of being in the U.S. at the same time.”

Although the students have job assignments, they are often in need of transportation to and from work, and thus the bike ministry was born.

“A good friend of mine, Mike Shoults, goes to church here, and he knew about the bike program,” said Poundstone when asked how he heard about the need for bicycles. “We would absolutely like to make this an annual giving thing.”

Fearson added that there is still a great need for more bicycles, as the number of students far outweighs the amount of bicycles that have been donated.

“If you have a bike sitting in the garage, even if it needs fixing, please donate it to St. Andrews bicycle ministry,” he said.