Two men leading an effort to provide bikes to homeless - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Two men leading an effort to provide bikes to homeless

Jay Twilbeck of Ocean Springs does repair work on several bikes that will be donated to homeless people in South Mississippi. (Photo source: WLOX) Jay Twilbeck of Ocean Springs does repair work on several bikes that will be donated to homeless people in South Mississippi. (Photo source: WLOX)
"A bike that's been given to them is freedom. They can go anywhere they want. I mean, that's amazing," said Twilbeck. (Photo source: WLOX) "A bike that's been given to them is freedom. They can go anywhere they want. I mean, that's amazing," said Twilbeck. (Photo source: WLOX)
James Bates, of Operation Homeless Hope, helps distribute the bikes to people like Joseph Ellis, who is currently looking for work in construction. (Photo source: WLOX) James Bates, of Operation Homeless Hope, helps distribute the bikes to people like Joseph Ellis, who is currently looking for work in construction. (Photo source: WLOX)
"It's a blessing, and I really appreciate it, because I really needed transportation and this is like my car," said Christie Jones, who is pictured with James Bates (center), and Joseph Ellis (right). (Photo source: WLOX) "It's a blessing, and I really appreciate it, because I really needed transportation and this is like my car," said Christie Jones, who is pictured with James Bates (center), and Joseph Ellis (right). (Photo source: WLOX)

It is said that one man's trash is another man's treasure. Two men on the coast are putting that philosophy into action. In their case, it's about providing people with a way to get around.

"We basically collect bikes that people don't need anymore, we fix them up, and we get them to people who can use them," said Jay Twilbeck of Ocean Springs.

He makes it seem simple. But, this simple idea can transform someone's life. After Twilbeck repairs a bike, it becomes a homeless man or woman's primary means of transportation.

"A bike that's been given to them is freedom. They can go anywhere they want. I mean, that's amazing," said Twilbeck.

A few months ago, he joined forces with James Bates, of Operation Homeless Hope. Bates has been collecting and giving out bikes for three years. So far, he's given away more than 30 bikes, but he hasn't done it alone. He said the people of the Gulf Coast are always quick to help those in need.

"We have a great community. Anytime there's been a need, people respond, and I'm honored to be a part of that," said Bates.

Once repairs are made, Bates finds people in need of the transportation; People like Christie Jones. She and her friend, Joseph Ellis, just moved here from Atlanta, but don't have a place to stay or any means of getting around. Jones is looking for a job in the service industry and this bike could mean finding it.

"It's like a blessing to me. It's a blessing, and I really appreciate it, because I really needed transportation and this is like my car," said Jones.

Ellis already received a bike from Bates and is making the rounds looking for construction work.

"He's a good guy. Need more of them," said Ellis about Bates.

The people who benefit from the work Bates does are often quick to praise him and his efforts. But for Bates, it's not about the praise.

"I just want to be a vessel for God and what He needs done and that's the goal. So if I can serve and be of service to our homeless, that's where I want to be," said Bates.

Delivering bikes isn't the only way Bates helps the homeless on the coast. His organization, Operation Homeless Hope, will be hosting its second annual Camping for Hope event in November. The purpose of the event is to collect camping supplies for the homeless community.

The organization will be holding a supply drive November 7-9. There will be three drop-off locations for the items: First Baptist Church of Gulfport, Lemoyne Boulevard Baptist Church, and Gulf Coast Community Ministries.

Then, there will be a camp out in downtown Gulfport which will end with a distribution of the collected items.

To find out more about this event, or to get in touch with Bates about donating a bike, join the Operation Homeless Hope Facebook group at: http://www.facebook.com/groups/OperationHomelessHope

Copyright 2014 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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