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Milton-Freewater nonprofit speeds ahead with annual bike giveaway

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Bike giveaway

Danner Farms' annual bike giveaway happens this weekend in Milton-Freewater. Attendees must register today to participate.

Nearly 100 free bicycles will be up for grabs at Danner Farms’ annual giveaway on Friday and Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon at Gordy Plastics in Milton-Freewater.

The used bikes are provided courtesy of local families and the police departments of Milton-Freewater, College Place and Walla Walla.

Volunteers from the Milton-Freewater Elks Lodge helped refurbish the bicycles and provided funding for bike licensing, helmets, locks and other accessories.

Jim and Barbara Goodenough, founders of Danner Farms, have distributed over 300 bicycles since their first event in 2014. This year’s giveaway will look quite different, Jim Goodenough said.

The organizers said they are taking a number of precautions to ensure the event is in accordance with local, state and federal COVID-19 safety guidelines.

Parents or guardians must register by phone before 5 p.m. today to reserve a time slot. Up to 10 people will be able to come to Gordy Plastics each hour.

Bikes — one per person — will be chosen on a first-come, first-serve basis, and a parent or legal guardian must be in attendance.

Additionally, 6-foot distancing will be required between non-family members during the outdoor event. Organizers and workers will wear masks, though facial coverings are not required for attendees. Bikes will be pressure-washed to ensure they are germ-free after selection.

Though the giveaway this weekend will lack the crowds and served food of those in the past, Jim Goodenough said he is glad it’s happening after all.

“We thought for a time that we’d have to cancel our normal spring giveaway and wait until a more conducive time,” he said, noting local restrictions have loosened enough to hold the limited event.

“It’s an opportunity to serve this community in a time that is particularly trying with, I believe, a service that is timely and beneficial — i.e. access to bicycles which are hard to find right now — and (bicycling) is one of the activities that people can do and be COVID-compliant.”

The annual bicycle giveaway is one of several services offered by the nonprofit Danner Farms.

“It’s a Christian big-brother program,” said Jim Goodenough. “We mentor boys primarily from broken homes by pairing them with male Christian volunteers from our local community.”

Boys and their mentors typically engage in a number of character-building activities such as hiking, gardening, woodworking and various community service projects, according to the Danner Farms website.

In accordance with COVID-19 safety guidelines, all group activities requiring transport — such as a planned hike in the Blue Mountains this week — have been canceled or postponed.

Still, the 8-acre Danner Farms has remained open, and the mentoring program has continued on a limited basis.

“We are allowing parents to bring their boy to our site for mentoring,” Jim Goodenough said. “We’re trying to do so in a socially distanced manner and outside as much as possible.”

Inspiration for the program’s name came from the Goodenoughs’ longtime furry friend.

“Danner was a ‘good dog’ who entered our lives in 1994 and spent the next 11 years teaching us powerful lessons about friendship, faithfulness, unconditional love and devotion,” the Goodenoughs wrote on their website. “Naming the mentoring project for Danner is a fitting tribute to a dog that was the epitome of ‘man’s best friend.’ ”

Not long after the Goodenoughs welcomed the first boy and a mentor to Danner Farms in 2012, they forged a partnership with Blue Mountain Humane Society and the Pendleton Animal Welfare Shelter to welcome homeless dogs into the family. Boys and their mentors have been socializing dogs ever since.

As of today, Danner Farms has helped find permanent homes for about 35 dogs.

Sean Gannon can be reached at seangannon@wwub.com.