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Donated bikes help ease difficulties through pandemic

A recipient of a bicycle from the Benjamin Canlas Courage to be Kind Foundation pushes her bicycle outside a building at the financial district of Man...
Benjamin Canlas Courage to be Kind Foundation founder Dr. George Canlas, center, and his wife co-founder Dr. Glennda Canlas, right, talk to a recipien...
Benjamin Canlas Courage to be Kind Foundation founder Dr. George Canlas, left, looks at a recipient pushing a bicycle during ceremonies at the financi...
A recipient, left, of a bicycle from the Benjamin Canlas Courage to be Kind Foundation prepares to ride outside a building at the financial district o...
Ronaldo del Rosario Jr. uses his bicycle to deliver rice cakes at Fort Bonifacio in Taguig, Philippines, Monday, July 13, 2020. Del Rosario was one of...
Ronaldo del Rosario Jr. walks beside his bicycle as he passes by a mall in Taguig, Philippines, Monday, July 13, 2020. Del Rosario was one of the reci...
Recipients of bicycles from the Benjamin Canlas Courage to be Kind Foundation gather outside a building at the financial district of Manila, Philippin...
Recipients of bicycles from the Benjamin Canlas Courage to be Kind Foundation wear helmets before riding their new bicycles outside a building at the ...
Recipients of the Benjamin Canlas Courage to be Kind Foundation react after getting their bicycles outside a building at the financial district of Man...
Recipients of bicycles from the Benjamin Canlas Courage to be Kind Foundation try out their new rides outside a building at the financial district of ...
Recipients of bicycles from the Benjamin Canlas Courage to be Kind Foundation try out their new rides outside a building at the financial district of ...
Ronaldo del Rosario Jr., center, delivers rice cake outside Fort Bonifacio in Taguig, Philippine, Monday, July 13, 2020. Del Rosario was one of the re...

A recipient of a bicycle from the Benjamin Canlas Courage to be Kind Foundation pushes her bicycle outside a building at the financial district of Man...

Benjamin Canlas Courage to be Kind Foundation founder Dr. George Canlas, center, and his wife co-founder Dr. Glennda Canlas, right, talk to a recipien...

Benjamin Canlas Courage to be Kind Foundation founder Dr. George Canlas, left, looks at a recipient pushing a bicycle during ceremonies at the financi...

A recipient, left, of a bicycle from the Benjamin Canlas Courage to be Kind Foundation prepares to ride outside a building at the financial district o...

Ronaldo del Rosario Jr. uses his bicycle to deliver rice cakes at Fort Bonifacio in Taguig, Philippines, Monday, July 13, 2020. Del Rosario was one of...

Ronaldo del Rosario Jr. walks beside his bicycle as he passes by a mall in Taguig, Philippines, Monday, July 13, 2020. Del Rosario was one of the reci...

Recipients of bicycles from the Benjamin Canlas Courage to be Kind Foundation gather outside a building at the financial district of Manila, Philippin...

Recipients of bicycles from the Benjamin Canlas Courage to be Kind Foundation wear helmets before riding their new bicycles outside a building at the ...

Recipients of the Benjamin Canlas Courage to be Kind Foundation react after getting their bicycles outside a building at the financial district of Man...

Recipients of bicycles from the Benjamin Canlas Courage to be Kind Foundation try out their new rides outside a building at the financial district of ...

Recipients of bicycles from the Benjamin Canlas Courage to be Kind Foundation try out their new rides outside a building at the financial district of ...

Ronaldo del Rosario Jr., center, delivers rice cake outside Fort Bonifacio in Taguig, Philippine, Monday, July 13, 2020. Del Rosario was one of the re...

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — A year after he passed away at age 17, Benjamin Canlas is still making the world a better place — one bike at a time.

The teenager is the inspiration for an unusual giveaway of mountain bikes, presented to Filipinos who are struggling to hold on to jobs in a country hard hit by the coronavirus. A foundation established by Benjamin’s parents is making it happen.

“There is so much need out there,” said Dr. Glennda Canlas, co-founder with her husband Dr. George Canlas of the private Benjamin Canlas Courage to be Kind Foundation. “But people are willing to help, you just have to put them together.”

In the wake of business closures and job losses in the Philippines, thousands of Filipinos have found themselves struggling to make ends meet. With a severely restricted public transportation system in metropolitan Manila, many were left with no choice but to take on odd jobs, completing them by foot, walking hours in the sun and rain.

The boy’s parents recalled how once, when Benjamin saw a food peddler riding a beat-up bicycle with its pedals missing, he used his own savings to replace them. And they saw a way to connect their private donors with the needy in a way that echoed their son’s good deed.

The idea was to give away bikes to deserving individuals nominated by their peers or loved ones. Unsure of the demand, the foundation at first announced on social media that it would give away just seven bicycles. But there were more than 50 entries.

The nominations were vetted for authenticity and on July 11, 27 individuals got bicycles that would help make their lives a little less difficult.

Among the recipients was 25-year old Ronaldo del Rosario Jr. who lost his job at a fast food chain due to the lockdown. He ended up borrowing a bicycle to sell rice cakes in the morning and smoked fish in the afternoon, to support his wife and almost 2-month old baby. He traveled tens of kilometers each day. Often, precious time and income would be lost when his borrowed bike needed repairs.

“I nominated him because he’s so hard working that his (bicycle) wheels always end up breaking down,” said Mharygrace Ortega, del Rosario’s partner.

At first, del Rosario couldn’t believe that he was getting a new bike.

“A bike isn’t just a simple thing,” he said. “A bike, for me, is what supports my life. A bike is my partner in my work every day. Especially now that we lost regular schedules at my previous job.”

Another new bike owner is homemaker-turned-online seller Liezel Camilla. Mother of a 2-year-old child, the 24-year-old Camilla started selling and delivering food on her own when her husband’s work was put on hold.

“I am so happy that I won’t have to walk so far anymore,” expressed a teary-eyed Camilla.

Even as the contest ended, nominations continued to pour in. The foundation acknowledged that while there are people still in need, much work has to be done.

It is working on launching more sustainable projects that will help more while also inspiring others to pay it forward.

“We live in a world where it still takes courage to be kind,” said Dr. Glennda Canlas. “Our goal would be from ‘courage to be kind,’ wouldn’t it be great when kindness is just the norm, kindness is just the baseline for everybody?”

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While nonstop news about the effects of the coronavirus has become commonplace, so, too, have stories about the kindness of strangers and individuals who have sacrificed for others. “One Good Thing” is an AP series reflecting these acts of kindness.