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Empowering lives, one bike at a time

Students try to find work and transport for people on Skid Row.

July 06, 2011|By Andrew Shortall and Veronica Rocha

Four area high schools — La Cañada High, Crescenta Valley High, South Pasadena and Hoover High — are collecting bicycles over the summer to donate to homeless men and women living on Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles.

Teens of the student-run LOOK International group plan to collect at least 100 bicycles. Peter Lee, the 17-year old president of the organization, incoming senior and founder of LOOK International, said it’s an “empowerment project.”

The idea of donating bicycles to homeless men and women came after several group visits to Skid Row, where the teens spoke with people who said they landed there because they lost their jobs and homes. The first time Lee visited Skid Row he spoke with a homeless man who told him about how he got where he was and how it made him feel.

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“He told me, and this still sticks with me today, ‘If a man cannot provide for himself he is no man at all,’” said Lee, who hopes the bikes will allow people to better provide for themselves.

Students will work with Los Angeles regional homeless services organizations to find needy men and women to determine who will receive the bikes. From there, members of LOOK International will approach businesses near Skid Row to hopefully find jobs for the 100 bike recipients.

“This would influence them significantly,” said Emily Schin, a 16-year old incoming junior and co-president of LOOK International at La Cañada High. “Instead of donating food, this gives them a way to transport themselves and it can make their lives a little bit easier.”

LOOK International is asking the communities of La Cañada, Glendale, South Pasadena and Crescenta Valley to help by donating bicycles. The group of 30 students plans to distribute the bicycles to transients in a ceremony at Gladys Park near Skid Row on Aug. 14.

Every two weeks, members of LOOK International visit Skid Row on a Sunday morning to distribute food and visit with the people living there. The group already has distributed more than 200 bags of food to Skid Row transients.

When Joseph Song, a 16-year old incoming junior and co-president of LOOK International at LCHS, first visited Skid Row he felt like he was making a difference.

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