INDIANAPOLIS – Normally, local non-profit Nine13sports partners with schools and community centers to teach kids how to ride and build bicycles. But, when in-person class stopped in March, Nine13sports put the brakes on that and switched gears to a new mission.
At the start of the pandemic, Nine13sports worried they’d have to shut down, which meant 11 full-time employees would be out of work. But they saw a need where they could help, even if their mission was different than before.
They partnered with Gleaners and Second Helpings to help families in Marion County, and now their fleet of vans that would normally transport bicycles is transporting food to those in need. They deliver to those who can’t leave their house to go to a food bank or a distribution event, like anyone at high risk, the elderly, immunocompromised or COVID-19 positive.
And the need is huge. Tom Hanley, CEO of Nine13sports, estimates each week staffers drive over 1,700 miles to deliver up to 150,000 pounds of food to over 1,200 homes just in Marion County.
“I had a conversation this week with a mom who was very appreciative of being able to have food to be able to feed her family,” Hanley said. “She had been making sure that her kids were getting fed, but she had been sacrificing for herself.”
With some schools back in session, Nine13sports is working with kids and bikes again outside of schools. As for the food delivery, they say the need increased every week, so they will continue that service long-term.
“We constantly have these interactions where we pull up and you hear the kids from the second-floor window looking out yelling ‘food’ like we grew up yelling ‘ice cream’ when the ice cream truck drove by,” Hanley said.
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