Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 562’s inaugural Bike Drive rolls out Christmas cheer for hundreds of kids this holiday season

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By TIM ROWDEN
Managing Editor

DISPLAYING JUST A FEW of the 350 bicycles collected for charities in Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 562’s inaugural holiday bike drive are (from left) Xavier Gassier , director of operations for the Plumbing Industry Council; Ted West, operations manager, Feed My People; (feed my people), Stephanie Berberich, executive director, Feed My People; Local 562 Business Manager John O’Mara; George Corey, project manager, Pipe and Duct Systems; Kristy Stephen, executive director, Mechanical Contractors Association of Eastern Missouri (MCA-EMO); Kurt Voss, director of engineering, Integrated Facility Services (IFS); Local 562 Assistant Business Manager Brian Nichols. – Labor Tribune photo

Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 562, with the help of their members, retirees, apprentices, contractors and industry associations, made the season a whole lot brighter for hundreds of children and youngsters in the Greater St. Louis area with Local 562’s inaugural bike drive, which collected some 350 new bikes for donation to area charities in time for the holidays.

Members of Local 562 step up for the community throughout the year, coordinating with their signatory contractors, the Mechanical Contractors Association (MCA) and Plumbing Industry Council (PIC) to help the needy, retirees and community groups with donated parts and labor. And every Christmas they host a toy drive.

This year though, they decided to do something a little different. Rather than have the usual toy drive, Local 562 put out a call for new bicycles, and the response was overwhelming, filling the main hall at Local 562’s training center with gleaming, brightly colored bikes and helmets ready to be delivered.

GETTING EVERYONE INVOLVED
“We’ve always paired up with the MAC the PIC and bought some toys, but we’ve always done something like a check,” Local 562 Business Manager John O’Mara said. “I think this is better because everybody can get involved.”

And get involved they did.

PRESENTING A CHECK for $7,500 and displaying the bikes going to Our Little Haven to help with the group’s early intervention work for children are (from left) Tim Decker, president, C&R Mechanical; Local 562 Assistant Business Manager Brian Nichols; Xavier Gassier , director of operations for the Plumbing Industry Council; Kristy Stephen, executive director, Mechanical Contractors Association of Eastern Missouri (MCA-EMO); Chris Munoz, associate director, Our Little Haven; Local 562 Busines Manager John O’Mara; Kim Slovacek, member services MCA-EMO; George Corey, project manager, Pipe and Duct Systems; and Kurt Voss, director of engineering, Integrated Facility Services (IFS). – Labor Tribune photo

On Dec. 2, even as several of the benefiting charities were showing up with trucks and trailers to get their bikes, donations from members of Local 562’s softball and hockey teams, individual members, retirees and others kept rolling in.

“I was at a national convention and I was talking to a couple guys from Philadelphia where they do something like this,” O’Mara said. “What they do is one night they bring their members in and unbox all the bikes and put them together. That’s where we got the idea to do something like this where everybody can be more involved.

“We do a lot through the year for these charities. We’ll do a job for them, give them money, write a check, which they like, but this is better because everyone can have a part in it.”

DONATIONS ROLLING IN
O’Mara said the union was expecting to have to buy a large number of bikes to meet their goal for the giveaway, but with members, retirees and even apprentices joining with Local 562’s sporting teams, contractors and vendors, the donated bikes just kept rolling in.

“We were going to buy a bunch, but as they started to come in, we only needed to buy a handful,” O’Mara said.

“Our retiree club gave us a check for $1,000, so we bought a bunch with that. Contractors have either donated bikes or their guys have donated bikes. It’s been more interactive.”

Assistant Business Manager Brian Nichols said apprentices and pre-apprentices working at Murphy Co. pooled their resources to buy 24 bikes.

“A bunch of kids are going to have a great Christmas morning,” Bob Young, a member of Local 562’s Bike Club, said. “There’s nothing better than waking up on Christmas morning to a new bike under the tree.”

BENEFICIARIES
Beneficiaries of this year’s inaugural bike drive – so far – have included:

  • Bible Way Fellowship Church of the Living God – five bikes.
  • Feed My People – 20 bikes.
  • Florissant Police – 10 bikes.
  • Gene Slays Boys & Girls Club – 11 bikes.
  • Jennings Do-Dads – 10 bikes.
  • Knights of Columbus/St. Norbert – 22 bikes.
  • Loyal Order of the Squirrels (Sts. Joachim & Ann Care Service) – 100 bikes.
  • Mayor Ella Jones/City of Ferguson – 30 bikes.
  • Orchard Farm – six bikes.
  • Our Little Haven – 10 bikes.
  • Sankofa Unity Center – 30 bikes.
  • St. Joseph Cottleville Parish – nine bikes.
  • St. Louis Bicycle Works – 10 bikes.
  • St. Louis City Police Department – 40 bikes.
  • • Wright City School – 19 bikes.

DONORS
Donors to the bike drive included:

  • Anheuser-Busch (jobsite).
  • C&R Mechanical.
  • Cocos Plumbing.
  • Deluca Plumbing.
  • General Motors (jobsite).
  • Integrated Facility Services (IFS).
  • Jarrell Plumbing.
  • Linek Plumbing.
  • Local 562 Bike Club.
  • Local 562 Hockey Team.
  • Local 562 members.
  • Local 562 Retirees Club.
  • Local 562 Softball Team.
  • Local 562 Office staff.
  • Mechanical Contractors Association (MCA).
  • Miscellaneous vendors that came through the Training Center, left and returned with bikes.
  • Multiple apprentice classes.
  • Murphy Company (service and construction).
  • O.J. Laughlin Plumbing.
  • Parkway Plumbing.
  • Plumbing Industry Council (PIC).
  • STL Shirt CO.

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