KENNEWICK, Wash. — One way to explain the assembly-line style workshop crowded into a Kennewick ballroom: organized chaos.
In a scene reminiscent of Santa’s workshop, volunteers from all over the Tri-Cities built hundreds of bikes for children in need.
Bikes for Tikes took over the Three-Rivers Convention Center in Kennewick after outgrowing their last venue.
For the last nine years Steamfitters Local Union 598 has made it all happen.
Organizers told Action News they spend most of the year planning for the build-a-thon.
This year, volunteers assembled 1,725 brand new bikes. It only took them a few hours, start-to-finish.
Even with safety checks to make sure the toys were safe.
Eleventh-grader Nathan Giles from Richland High School was right in the middle of it all.
"I'm just putting the rear-end together,” Giles said, looking up from the bike he was working on. “The training wheels, the seat and the pedals."
Giles said the decision to spend Friday morning helping others was easy.
"I was really happy when I got my first bike, and I wanted to help other kids feel happy," he said.
Volunteer Mary Glines came with a group of motorcycle-enthusiasts called the .50 Calibers.
"We're not the big bad bikers everybody thinks we are,” she laughed.
Glines says they’re part of a non-profit dedicated to ending cancer, but they spend a lot of time volunteering their time and money.
At least $1,000 the last three years.
Boardmember Tina Clouston says volunteers like these are vital to the project's success.
That’s why she’s glad so many see value in helping others without getting something back.
"It's a big deal,” she explained while fighting back tears. "A lot of kids don't have the best home life so for a kid to get a bike from somebody they don't know makes a big difference."
Clouston says most of the bikes stay in the Tri-Cities, but they try to spread the wealth.
"For those of us who've been fortunate in our lives, a bike is a simple, trivial thing,” she explained. ”But to a kid that doesn't have one it's not such a simple thing."
She says they’re sending a couple dozen bikes north to a children’s hospital in Spokane.
Others are headed to Walla Walla and Yakima.
"It's been a very, very long day,” Clouston sighed. “We started setting up yesterday, we build today, we're going to take about six weeks off and then we start organizing for next year."
Local Union 598 started Bikes for Tikes nine years ago.
Since then they’ve donated just under 12,000 bikes and helmets to kids in need all over eastern Washington.