- Associated Press - Sunday, September 21, 2014

PITTSBURG, Kan. (AP) - As pastor for international students of Pittsburg State University’s Campus Christians, Don Smith’s vocation is serving the spiritual needs of the organization’s members. But he performs another service that’s in high demand with students of every creed, or none at all - repairing bicycles and loaning them out for the school year.

For decades, Smith has made it a mission to provide serviceable bikes to as many students as possible. It’s a task that has become more daunting as enrollment has grown at the southeast Kansas campus.

The 2014 fall semester began more than five weeks ago with Smith facing a shortage of bikes for the first time. He’s been scrambling to whittle down a waiting list that at one point had 75 names, The Morning Sun newspaper reported (https://bit.ly/1r6HB2W ).

“Just a few more days now,” Smith reassured student Teja Kurapati on Thursday. “Probably Monday.”

Students borrow the bikes for a $35 fee, refundable when they’re returned in working condition. About 25 percent of them never come back, Smith said; some are stolen or lost, and some are only good for parts when students are done with them.

Campus Christians rely on bicycle donations to keep the program going, although Smith will sometimes purchase bikes for the right price. The university’s Student Government Association has also bought some bikes for the program in the past and may also help with another key need: finding bikes that are lost.

The association had suggested painting the bicycles in Pittsburg State’s colors of crimson and gold. But Smith said that would require having a paint shop disassemble an average bicycle.

Also, the relatively unique coloring might prompt more of what’s been a constant problem: theft.

“We might try to make the bikes kind of ugly,” Smith said. “We don’t want them looking attractive.”


Information from: The (Pittsburg, Kan.) Morning Sun, https://www.morningsun.net

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