Hart Middle School faculty, staff surprise 14 children with new bikes

Gifts go to students from San Leandro

Hart Middle School teachers and staff in Pleasanton built and delivered 14 bicycles for children in the San Leandro Parks and Recreation program through a team-building activity held Thursday afternoon, two days before schools opened.

However, staff didn't know they were building the bikes for the children and the children didn't know they were being surprised with bicycles.

Teachers and staff were told to show up at school for a staff development day, led by Odyssey Teams, Inc., a company best known for their philanthropic teambuilding programs, said Odyssey Teams facilitator Whitney Demorest.

The staff was split up into 14 teams of five and each team had 32 minutes to put together the product found in a big cardboard box, which ended up being a bicycle.

Once time ran out, the staff was asked to prepare a presentation of the bicycle and were shown who they would be presenting it to.

One by one, from shortest to tallest, 14 children walked into the multipurpose room.

Hart staff were in complete shock, while others had tears falling from their faces.

"Unbelievable. Just fabulous," said sixth grade teacher Erin Van der Zee. "What a great way to start the year."

Each group presented one of the children with their new bicycle, along with a safety helmet and bicycle lock.

"I'm so surprised," said Kennedy Middle School eighth grader Juno Hwang. "I really appreciate this new bike."

According to Demorest, Odyssey Teams "Life Cycles" training program is a way for people to learn about themselves but also give back to the community.

"Through the 'Life Cycle' of creating something valuable and passing it on to the end user, your team will experience firsthand the value of collaboration, customer-centricity, and teamwork," the company's website states.

"When the kids walked through that door, all the work we did immediately had meaning," said sixth grade science teacher Brian Wigand. "When our students walk through that door on Monday, they will give meaning to all the hard work we've been doing. We can really change some kids' lives."

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Like this comment
Posted by Rick
a resident of Parkside
on Aug 28, 2014 at 12:25 pm

Great story! This is an example of the "goodness" around us all.

Like this comment
Posted by How did they pick the kids???
a resident of Hart Middle School
on Aug 28, 2014 at 6:09 pm

How come my kid didn't get one??? Favoritism much??? Great idea, but really, it isn't fair my economically disadvantaged family didn't get a badly needed bike...

Like this comment
Posted by How come my kid didn't get one???
a resident of another community
on Aug 28, 2014 at 6:10 pm

Sorry, I do not live in Pleasanton, but San Leandro. My child attends Kennedy Middle School...

Like this comment
Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on Aug 29, 2014 at 11:46 am

I'm delighted to learn that children received bicycles! HOORAY!

Like this comment
Posted by Steve
a resident of Stoneridge
on Sep 2, 2014 at 12:47 pm

How did our Hart Middle School Staff pay for the Odyssey Team Building event? Was it from my PFC donation? Or maybe the PUSD donation? Perhaps it was from donations to each class for basic supplies. Or, maybe they paid for it from funds intended to replace worn out books. That's probably why they were asking for more money to replace books. I can't afford a bike for my son because I donated $250 to the school, but they can pay for a team building exercise that includes a bike for kids in San Leandro.

I guess that there's another child that's happy today that they received a new bike. I know that Milpitas has unclaimed bikes available for free, and I'm sure other communities do too. But a used bike might require their parents to put some effort into cleaning and repairing the bike for their kids, and perhaps their kids might gain some character from understanding how expensive a bike can be, and might take care of it.

Maybe school supplies may have been a better use of very limited funds. When are we voting on a Parcel Tax again? Are we having a fund drive for Chrome books soon?

Like this comment
Posted by Hart MOM
a resident of Stoneridge
on Sep 8, 2014 at 11:03 pm

I agree with Steve. It's unfortunate that the administration at HART could not come up with a team building activity that gave back to the community without expending our hard earned funds. Our schools are always asking for money and now we find out the money is being used to build bikes for children in another community. We don't have the money for this. They could have volunteered for free but this was probably the easist thing to do since the company did all the work. You are welcome HART administration, I just wish I would have known that's where all my donations were going. I will never donate again.

Like this comment
Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on Sep 9, 2014 at 10:03 am


I'm much more concerned about drunk drivers and folks on phones behind the wheel injuring/killing innocent bike riders.

Drunks and mom's on phones is a much more urgent concern!

and i mean it...

Like this comment
Posted by Pleasanton Mom.
a resident of Parkside
on Sep 9, 2014 at 1:57 pm

I'm sorry, but I think the jealousy displayed on this with "my kid didn't get one" is despicable. We don't know how these recipients were chosen. As a single parent on a budget, would I have liked a free bike too, sure. But knowing that 14 other needy children received a gift like this makes me very happy. I don't have a sense of entitlement and I'm confident the kids that received the bikes really appreciate them and came from families where there was a need. That's good enough for me.

To the parent of the child in San Leandro who didn't get a bike, what if the taxpayers in Pleasanton who paid for this team building exercise took on your attitude and cried foul for giving the bikes to another community instead of our own children in need. Of course we don't feel that way and instead I know most of us are thrilled with the outcome for these children. Jealousy is toxic.

Like this comment
Posted by Angry
a resident of Birdland
on Sep 9, 2014 at 5:11 pm

Why did we as tax payers have to pay for a bunch of impoverished kids to get bikes? If they wanted bikes, they should earn them. Impoverished=lazy!

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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