Non-for-profit loses over 700 bikes destined for children in Lemp Brewery building collapse

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ST. LOUIS (KTVI) – A portion of a building in the Lemp Brewery complex collapsed Sunday morning.  No one was hurt, but 700 bikes kept there were destroyed and are now under tons of brick rubble.

Fox 2’s Patrick Clark talked to the director of the non-profit that was storing their surplus bicycles in the Lemp building about what’s next for the organization after losing 700 bikes destined for St. Louis children.

BWORKS a non-for-profit is located in Soulard. The organization supplies bicycles and computers to children ages seven to 17 in the City of St. Louis.

“We have a series of classes that we run called Earn a Bike or Earn a Computer program in which kids come in they learn through a series of classes different material and at the end of the class they’ll end up walking out with a desktop or laptop computer or bicycle, helmet, lock, and light,” said Patrick Van Der Tuin, Executive Director St. Louis BWORKS. 

The organization stored 80-percent of its surplus bicycles at the Lemp Brewery.

“So, this building is only so big, so we had a warehouse space, or had a warehouse space that was close by that was our holding place for bikes while we triage them. So, we had about 700 bikes in that room that collapsed,” said Tuin.

Sunday morning around 9 a.m. a portion of this building, number 20, in the Lemp Brewery complex collapsed at the corner of Cherokee and 18th Street.

“We’re figuring out what we’re going to do for storage space. This building is larger, and we can continue to hold some bikes for the time being. So, we’re looking for bikes that we lost so we can continue to keep running.”

BWORKS is seeking donations of bicycles, computers, or a financial gift, to help the organization overcome the loss of the bicycles.  

“It’s been a rough couple of months. We lost a board member last Sunday. So, a week before the building collapsed, we had our truck stolen from us. We’re dealing with COVID and how we can redesign our programs. But we have immense volunteers behind us and great donors and we’re incredibly grateful for that.”

BWORKS says they’ll switch gears on some of their programs but will continue forward providing bicycles to children in the city.

“It’s freedom, it’s your first basic transportation around with your friends and neighbors. It allows you to get to the park or the store, all those good things.”

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