West Hartford students donate bikes to homeless to get to jobs

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WEST HARTFORD--What may seem like a typical bike is instead seen as a new opportunity for a lot of men at the McKinney Shelter in Hartford.

“I’m the happiest person in my whole life today,” said Jose Martinez, who told Fox CT he can only work part-time as a painter because some of the jobs are too far. “I have to call and cancel my appointments or I can't make it to my job or I can't make it to my job appointment because I don't got transportation,” said Martinez.

He’s hoping that will change now. Martinez is one of 18 men getting a new set of wheels, thanks to three seniors at Hall High School in West Hartford.

As part of their global problem solving class, Sam Dobbins, Jason Gilbert and Sam Katten decided to focus on the issue of limited transportation for those struggling financially.

“Maybe what we think as a recreational tool. For them, it's a life source, a way of getting around that we use a car as,” said Katten.

Realizing the severity of this issue, Katten, along with his classmates, started a bike drive. In all, they collected nearly 140 bikes to be given to those who are homeless.

However, these bikes aren’t just given out to anyone. Only people who are working, like Martinez, and those who can prove they’re looking for jobs, were eligible.

Louis Pittman, who is actively searching for work, but hampered by his lack of transportation, was another one of the recipients of a new bike. “Getting the job, I do pretty well. I figured I sell myself pretty well. So, getting the job is not the problem. It's getting back and forth,” said Pittman.

Other bikes will be distributed after a bit of maintenance, which several local businesses are volunteering to do for free.

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