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Girl Scouts Aid Sri Lanka

Old bicycles cluttering up the garage?

Fifth-grade Girl Scouts from the Stone Ridge School in Bethesda tried to give old bikes new homes April 23. Troop 5978 sponsored a collection at the school that garnered 150 used bicycles that are now bound for lower-income people in Sri Lanka.

Many of the girls live in Potomac, as does troop leader Brad Thayer.

The collection was conducted through Bikes for the World, an Alexandria, Va.-based charity that collects used bicycles and ships them overseas to developing countries where they can have a second, useful life. For the people of these countries, a used bicycle can provide access to employment, education and health care opportunities that would otherwise be out of reach. The Troop 5978 shipment will make its way next week to the people of Sri Lanka, many of whom were affected by the recent tsunami.

The girls of Troop 5978 began the year with a focus on creating a service project for themselves, Thayer said. The girls were responsible for publicity for the event which included announcements at school, posting in church bulletins, distributing flyers to neighbors and relatives

On the day of the event, the girls and their parents had to not only collect the bicycles, but also break them down for the most efficient shipping overseas. Girls learned to remove the pedals, turn the handlebars and lower the seats on the bikes.

The troop had hoped to collect 50 bicycles but ended up with 150 bicycles and more than $1,000 in donations to help defray Bikes for the World's shipping costs.

Bikes for the World conducts multiple used bicycle collections each weekend during the spring in the Washington area. The Landon School will be holding its annual collection 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday. For more information, visit www.bikesfortheworld.org.