PRENTICE - To some people, a pile of scrap metal may look like garbage. But to Prentice High School teacher Quan Banh, many of the things he finds inside still have life to them.
"I see that there are certain resources in there that could be used," said Banh.
Banh has spent the last four years collecting old and new bikes as well as bike parts.
Once he's collected at least 180 bikes, Working Bikes, a Chicago-based nonprofit organization, comes to Prentice to pick them up. The bikes are then fixed and shipped worldwide to people who need them.
"For these people in Third World countries, it's more than just riding around and having fun as a kid. It's going to fetch water or get your firewood or food or something like that," said Banh.
Banh is familiar with that way of living. It's actually a big reason he spends so much time on the project. Banh grew up in Vietnam and moved to the United States in 1979.
"I never had access to bikes and stuff ,and when I did I was very happy to be able to ride around with my friends," said Banh.
Banh says growing up with very little forced him to become resourceful.
"When you don't have stuff, you tend to be creative and make up your own stuff," said Banh.
Now, he fixes many of the bikes he collects from the Reuben's in Prentice, a scrap and waste yard off Highway 8.
Since starting this hobby, Banh says he's collected about 400 bikes. Once he has the bikes, he brings them over to his friend Sharyn Friedell's house to store them.
"Never let anything go to waste, so, I applaud him," said Friedell. "We all need to take special recognition of his whole philosophy."
It's a philosophy Banh lives by and one he hopes will continue giving life to these used and unwanted bikes.
"I figure I just came here with nothing, I ain't got nothing to lose. I got stuff," Banh said. "If people need it, they can have it [because] I like to live a simple life."
Banh will be hosting a bike drive for Working Bikes this Saturday. Drop-off locations are at The Crazy Loon in Phillips as well as Reuben's in Prentice. Quan says bikes in any condition can be dropped off.
For more information on Working Bikes, click on the link below.