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Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority Serving Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia Counties

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"Gearing" Up for the Holidays

Heather Redfern
SEPTA Press Officer

With so many toys to prepare and deliver to children around the world, Santa always appreciates an extra hand. One "elf" Santa can count on in the Greater Philadelphia region is SEPTA's Chris Guinan, a foreman at the Authority's Overbrook Shop.

For the past two years, Guinan, a 26-year SEPTA employee, has used his free time and own money to repair gently used bicycles for children across the Delaware Valley. What started as a donation of five bikes last year has grown exponentially - this year Guinan will have 85 bicycles to give to organizations that help children in need in the SEPTA service region.

"This all started with my repairing and donating five bikes. Soon after, with a little planning, it took on a life of its own," said Guinan. "I'll be happy with any number of bikes collected if it brings a smile to a child's face. Obviously, it would be satisfying to reach out in a big way."

Just as Santa needs a year to get ready for his big Christmas Eve sleigh ride, Guinan has also spent the past year working on the bicycles in his "North Pole- Delaware Valley Annex' workshop, amping up his efforts throughout the summer. Many of the bikes he received came from SEPTA staff.

"I distributed a flyer in the Heavy Rail Division first and then followed into Light Rail and other divisions at the end of February," said Guinan. "I'd like to think the donation of bikes and the support of many within SEPTA illustrates the generosity and greater sense of purpose we all serve within and beyond the Authority." Among those who assisted Guinan are his brother, Mike, an electro-mechanic at the Fern Rock shop, who helped collect and repair the bikes. Chris also had support at home, from his wife, son and daughter; community members who donated bikes; and from a Northeast Philadelphia Wal-Mart, which provided a $100 gift card for repair work.

Guinan's refurbished bicycles will be distributed to several organizations, including Holy Family University to support their efforts to assist children in need and those affected by Hurricane Sandy; Shriners Hospital for Children; and Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. "I hope that by donating the bikes to a variety of organizations, it will help generate even more support next year," Guinan said.

SEPTA has another "bike guy" in Steve Ferzetti, a station manager on the Broad Street and Market-Frankford Lines and a 24-year SEPTA employee. For the past 10 years, Ferzetti, with the assistance of cashiers, maintenance staff, custodians and supervisors, has collected abandoned, unclaimed bicycles left on SEPTA's Broad Street and Market-Frankford Line properties and donated them to be repaired and given to local children or passengers in need of a two-wheeled ride.

"These bikes are tagged and stored at 69th Street Transportation Center, in 'Steve's Room'. If the bikes are not claimed in 30 days, I am able to give them to people who need them," said Ferzetti, who, along with his two sons, is a fixed gear biker. "I've repaired bicycles and given them to kids in my neighborhood or people we heard needed a bike - a lot of our passengers rely on bikes to get to and from our stations and they are in an tough spot if their bike has been stolen or breaks down." Ferzetti also turns the bikes over to a man with a shop in West Philadelphia who repairs them for people in his area.

"The SEPTA family sincerely cares about our community," said General Manager Joe Casey. "The efforts of Chris, Mike and Steve to bring smiles to the faces of children who might have never had bicycles or to help a person in need of a bike truly epitomizes our employees' willingness to help our neighbors not only during the holiday season, but throughout the year, too."


Thanks to the efforts of SEPTA's Chris Guinan, 85 children in the Delaware Valley will have bikes this holiday.



Bikes await Guinan's magic touch at his "North Pole- South" workshop



Guinan worked on bikes throughout the past year.



Steve Ferzetti checks on bikes in "Steve's Room" at 69th Street Transportation Center