(KMSP) - JP Liesenfeld fell in love with Jamaica when he was only 16-years-old. Two decades later, he’s returning the joy the island has brought him by giving back to its community.
Liesenfeld, who visits the country once a year, said he was moved to start the One Love Brigade about three years ago when he noticed a crowd of local children in awe over a classmate’s bike.
"I was like, 'why don't they have bikes?' and suddenly this guy goes, ‘there's no bikes here, we don't have money for bikes,’” Liesenfeld recalls. “I thought, if I can bring a couple bikes—and I originally wanted to bring two—I could make a difference.”
One Love Brigade took its first shipment of 114 donated bikes to Jamaica last year. This year, they’ve doubled the amount of donations and gained credibility in the community.
"To get anything into Jamaica is very expensive and it’s a long process,” Liesenfeld said when asked why no other organization is doing this kind of work. “It’s ranked the second worst country in the world to ship to, so it’s a difficult situation.”
Liesenfeld doesn’t receive state funding or federal grants. He doesn’t pay for services or employees. It’s very much a non-profit.
“I will never pay somebody to do this. It’s me and my friend Sam and we lose a ton of money doing this,” he laughs because to him the out-of-pocket costs are worth it. “I think it’s what a charity should be.”
One Love Brigade will be delivering around 300 bikes to impoverished neighborhoods in Jamaica in December.
If you would like to help, Liesenfeld said they are in desperate need of helmets and bike locks.
Visit the One Love Brigade website for more: http://www.onelovebrigade.com/