MONTVILLE, NJ – What started as a passion for racing bikes has become a passion for a bicycle charity.

Rising junior Alex Iervolino received a bicycle for his graduation from Lazar Middle School and started riding, then joined a bike racing team that races several times a week. He has been racing for about two years and trains about three times a week, seasonally.

In his other free time, he says he likes to work with his hands and he would like to be a mechanical engineer some day.

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“I’m into building things and tinkering in my garage,” he told TAPinto Montville. “My father bought me welding equipment for Christmas and I started making projects with it, like a motorcycle made out of a bicycle.”

A counselor suggested that Iervolino become involved with Pedals for Progress because of his cycling, welding and mechanical engineering interests.

Pedals for Progress is a non-profit that collects bicycles and ships them to developing countries in Latin America, Africa and Eastern Europe, according to the organization’s website. In those countries, the bikes are reconditioned by partner agencies and distributed at low cost to poor, working adults. The bikes provide reliable transportation for commuting to work, transporting products to market, and accessing healthcare and other services. To date, the organization has shipped more than 153,000 bicycles, according to the website.

Iervolino organized a bike drive in Montville Township, using social media and reaching out to friends and neighbors to ask for donations. He also picked up bikes from the garbage and asked for donations after the town-wide garage sale.

“About 70 percent of the donations came from my mom’s post on Montville Moms on Facebook,” he said.

He wound up with 43 bikes in about six weeks. The organization asked that he lower the seats, turn and lower the handle bars, remove the training wheels and any other accessories like bells, and take the peddles off for ease of shipping, which he did. A volunteer picked up the bikes with a box truck.

Iervolino said in the fall he is going to organize another drive through a church, and possibly accept sewing machines as part of the drive. He said he likes the fact that these drives keep these items out of landfills.

“I loved the project and I found it rewarding,” Iervolino said. “When you think about what each bike can do individually for a person... More than 40 families are supported because now they can go out and work.”

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