MOUNDRIDGE — West Zion Mennonite Church Pastor Brad Roth is hoping to fill at least one truck — and possibly an additional trailer — with bicycles for refugees.
The church is holding a bicycle drive from 8 to 10 a.m. March 10 at its building, located at 101 S. Washington in Moundridge.
"For several years, our congregation has been working with a committee in Hesston that has been helping to settle some refugees," Roth explained.
Many of the refugees coming to Kansas are from Democratic Republic of Congo, which has seen a surge in violence in recent years.
The United Nations' 2016 annual report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict reported hundreds of children are recruited to become soldiers, with dozens dying as a result of military or unofficial armed group skirmishes. More than 250 children were victims of sexual violence, the report went on to state, and there were 26 attacks on schools and hospitals.
While they have assisted refugee families living in Hesston, Roth said even more families are coming to Wichita. The church has teamed up with Saint Francis Migration Ministries in Wichita, which was formerly known as Episcopal Migration Ministries, to get the bikes to those in need.
"Some families need a way to get to work and school and don't have a driver's license or car yet, so a bicycle is a good way to help them," Roth said.
Bicycles give those without a car a way to travel around the area and, especially in the case of children, have some fun.
New or used bicycles for all ages will be accepted at West Zion Mennonite church's bike drive. Even those in need of a little repair can be donated.
Monetary donations will also be accepted at the bike drive. Those funds will go toward the purchase of bicycle helmets.
The scheduling of the bike drive is intentional, as March brings thoughts of spring cleaning and Easter to people's minds.
"This has been something we've wanted to do for a while," Roth said. "We did think it was particularly appropriate as we came up to Palm Sunday."
Roth said donating bicycles for refugees mirrors Jesus' entrance into Jerusalem on a borrowed donkey on Palm Sunday.
"There is a very specific call in both the Old and New Testaments to care for refugees, so this is one way we're trying to do this," Roth said. "Bring out those old bikes and put them to use."
For more information about the bike drive or to schedule an alternative time to drop off a bike, contact the West Zion Mennonite Church office at 620-345-8143 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Patricia Middleton by email at email@example.com or follow her stories on Twitter at @MacSentinel.