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Cyclists provide for Pittsburgh’s homeless with care package deliveries

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Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review
Bridgette Wright, second from left, instructs riders before they head out to distribute care packages to the homeless Saturday, March 19, 2016. Three teams of riders delivered clothing, toiletries and gift cards. Wright has organized three deliveries since an encounter with a homeless woman late last year.
ptrHomeless1032016
Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review
Mikhail Evstiounin, from Upper St. Clair, heads down Penn Avenue in Lawrenceville to distribute care packages to the homeless Saturday, March 19, 2016. Three teams of riders delivered clothing, toiletries and gift cards in an effort they called 'Care Packs by Bike.'

Bridgette Wright was at a Wendy’s restaurant in December when a woman rapped her fingers on her car window. She asked for a dollar. When Wright asked why, the answer left her shocked and saddened.

“She said she needed to go to Dollar Tree and get a toothbrush and toothpaste,” Wright recalled.

She gave the woman, homeless with a daughter, meals and $5. But the memory left her wanting to do more.

Wright, a public allies fellow with Bike Pittsburgh, now leads a charge to help the homeless with the most basic necessities by delivering goods straight to them.

Care Packs by Bikes held its third event Saturday. About 15 cyclists met in Lawrenceville to pick up care packages stocked with toothbrushes, soap, towels, Subway gift cards, feminine hygiene products, hand sanitizer and some with T-shirts and socks. They planned to canvass the Strip District and Downtown and pass out the packages to those in need.

Cyclists handed out 250 similar packages at two events in December.

The packages include resource packets from the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police Zone 1 station, and Wright typed up a list of shelters and free clinic information to hand out.

Allegheny County has an estimated 1,424 homeless people, according to the county’s Department of Human Services.

Bob Bindas, 52, of Forest Hills is an avid cyclist and member of the Pittsburgh Major Taylor Cycling Club. He said the event was a chance to help those who are less fortunate.

“We’re in such an affluent country, a country that has so much, and you see so many people who are suffering,” Bindas said. “You don’t want to turn a blind eye to someone in need.”

The cyclists split into small groups and headed to the 31st Street Bridge, where the homeless often camp, and Downtown via the Penn Avenue bike lanes. They filled up messenger bags, bike bags and trailers with the care packages.

Wright told them to hand out resource packets to anyone who might need them.

“Everyone’s going through something,” she said.

Wright was pleased by the day’s turnout, and if all the care packages didn’t find their way into the hands of someone Saturday, she planned to save them for later.

She hopes that her efforts may lead her back to the woman at Wendy’s.

“I haven’t seen her,” she said. “She really inspired me to do this. It left me wanting to do so much more.”

Melissa Daniels is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-8511 or [email protected].

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