Ernie Schrider’s mission: Every kid should have a bike
Berkeley Springs resident Ernie Schrider has been repairing donated bicycles for 19 years and giving them to children that don’t have one. Schrider loves seeing the joy in kids’ faces as they receive a bicycle. He is 88 years old now and said his goal is seeing every kid in Morgan County with a bike.
Schrider delivered 18 bicycles on May 3 to Greenwood Elementary students and came back on May 10 with 10 more bikes. Principal Barbara Miller had taken orders for bicycles for kids that didn’t own a bike.
Last year he brought 62 bicycles to Warm Springs Intermediate School for kids. The First United Methodist Church helped finance 62 helmets to go with the bikes from a mission fund. Schrider has also taken bikes to the Rev. Nancy Ward Mission Outreach in Paw Paw.
Schrider remembered growing up back in the Depression years in Montgomery County and not having a bike. Everyone was poor then, he said.
Schrider recalled every so often going to a dump and getting bicycle parts as a kid. He was about nine or 10 years old and pieced together a bike that had no tires—just the wheels, no chain and no brakes. Schrider said he’d push the bike up a big hill just to ride it down the hill because it was fun.
When he later lived in Carroll County he gave a bicycle to a young deaf boy that lived across the street that was so excited with the gift. He moved afterwards to Berkeley Springs and collected some toys and 13 bicycles for some mission work in Kentucky.
A young boy was helping to unload the bicycles. Schrider told him to go ahead and ride one. The joy in that child as he rode all around was so profound that Schrider told him he could have the bike. The kid was so tickled, he said.
When he came back from his delivery, Schrider started asking people for bicycles that weren’t being used that were just collecting dust in their basements and garages. Sometimes he’d pick up a bike at a yard sale for a couple of bucks and fix it up. Schrider said he’s probably given away about 300 bicycles so far.
He gets the bicycles into good shape, making small repairs or putting new tires or chains on them if needed.
It all depends on how much work a bicycle needs as to whether he’ll decide to fix it. Schrider doesn’t like to put a lot of money into the repairs because a brand new bike may cost about the same as the price of two new tires and a chain. Sometimes people will give him money towards repairing a bike they’ve donated, he said.
With summer almost here and school ending, Schrider “wanted to see what we can do to help kids.” It’s a sure bet that some children will be enjoying the summer riding a bicycle they got from Schrider.