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Five years, Five Hundred Bikes for "SEPTA Santa"

Heather Redfern
SEPTA Public Information Manager

Five years ago, 30-year SEPTA employee Chris Guinan, a maintenance manager at Overbrook Shop, wanted to make a difference for children in need throughout the Greater Philadelphia region by presenting them with bicycles during the holiday season. That year, five children received gently used bikes that had been refurbished by Guinan. Fast forward to 2016, and Guinan recently delivered his 500th bike to Philadelphia's Intercultural Family Services, Inc. (IFS).

"This has taken on a life of its own," said Guinan. "Each year, I find myself collecting more and more bikes." On December 14, Guinan and his elves - wife Cindy, daughter Lauren (who works at SEPTA's Procurement Department), son Christian and colleague Antoine DuBose (a member of the Fraser Yard staff) - delivered more than 100 bikes to IFS, via U-Haul and pick-up truck.

Just like Santa, Guinan begins planning his next holiday delivery not long after Christmas ends. "He starts preparing in March," said Cindy. By mid-summer, the Guinans' backyard looks like the North Pole-South. Many of the bikes he receives come from SEPTA staff.

Lauren helps her father with marketing, creating flyers and posting on SEPTA's intranet, seeking gently used bicycles. She also searches online for parts Chris might need to repair the donations. "I have a five-year-old daughter," Lauren said. "She receives so many Christmas gifts. I wanted to help give back to kids that aren't as fortunate." In addition to donations from co-workers across the Authority, Guinan also receives donations from his community and from Toys R Us and Wal-Mart.

Guinan's refurbished bicycles were also delivered to Shriners Hospital for Children. "I don't think anything I'm doing is extraordinary," Guinan said.

One family that disagrees with Guinan's humility is the Youngs. Eleven-year-old Christopher received the 500th bike, picking from those delivered to IFS. Christopher's siblings were previous bike recipients. "This not only gives him exercise, it also provides therapy," said Christopher's grandfather, Crawford Young, Sr.

With a helmet from IFS, Christopher was ready to get rolling on the gold bike he selected. The smile on Christopher's face was thanks enough for Guinan.

The Guinans' donations arrived in U-Haul and pick-up truck.

The Guinans were joined by SEPTA colleague Antoine DuBose at IFS.

With so many bikes, Christopher Young had a difficult choice to make.