The buzz in one of the automotive shops at North Central Kansas Technical College in Hays wasn’t the usual sort you’d hear.
Instead, the commotion belonged to instructors of the college and the banging of tools — not the typical discussion by students as they worked.
Monday marked a day of service for instructors at the school, and many spent a good portion of the morning assembling bicycles. Those bikes will be given away to children in need of a new two-wheeled toy during a race in May at RPM Speedway in Hays.
“I’ve been involved with some stuff at RPM for quite a few years,” said Mark Rathbun, an instructor and department chairman in automotive technology at the school. “My wife and I have been involved with this for several years. We donate toward the bicycles, and that’s how I got started with it. I went out a few year ago to RPM, and it was just a few people putting bikes together one evening. I wondered if our students would be interested in this. I came back and asked for volunteers, and there was a group of five or six last year that volunteered and had a ball. Then a couple of them came out when the bikes were given away, and they saw what it was all about.”
This year, the college decided the assembly process would be a good team-building project.
“We call this a team-work day, and we have three throughout the year,” said NCK Tech President Eric Burks. “We used to have committees where we talked on the phone, but people from Hays weren’t getting to know people from Beloit real well and vice versa. So when we can put everybody together in the same place and work together and get to know each other and share a little bit, it makes us a stronger team all around.”
Approximately 100 employees on the campuses of Hays and Beloit helped Monday in various activities. Along with assisting RPM Speedway, staff also had plans to help the Salvation Army, ARC of the Central Plains, United Methodist Church, the historical society and Sternberg Museum of Natural History.
“The community of Hays has been great to us, and Beloit as well,” Burks said. “Last year we did this in Beloit, and we’ll alternate the campuses as well. There’s just so many great people. And I think it’s important to see who we’re helping, too. We’re working with the Salvation Army, RPM Speedway and others. They do a lot of great things in the community, too. If we can join forces to serve our community, we’re more than happy to do that.”
Staff assembling bikes faced a full trailer of boxes. One-by-one, the rows of bicycles began to grow as the morning hours ticked away.
“It’s important to give back to your community,” said Richard Cox, and automotive technology instructor. “It’s important to take a role in your community, and some people don’t know what they all can do. By doing this, it’s something. It’s rewarding at the end of the day to know you’ve given back to the community and helped children as well.”