San Jose, Calif., Local 332 has a unique tradition at its annual holiday party. Many members show up early and spend the day assembling bikes purchased for needy children in the area.

A unique holiday party tradition is one of the many ways that San Jose, Calif., Local 332 gives back to its community. Each year, many members show up hours early to assemble children’s bicycles that are purchased by the local and NECA's Santa Clara Valley chapter.
"They spend quite a few hours putting [the bikes] together, but it's a really fun day,” Business Manager Javier Casillas said of Local 332's holiday tradition.

Local 332 splits the cost with NECA's Santa Clara Valley chapter. Once assembled, the bikes are donated to Sacred Heart Community Service, a San Jose-based organization working to address poverty in the city. Sacred Heart distributes them to children in need.

Business Manager Javier Casillas said members usually assemble 75 to 150 bikes.

"They spend quite a few hours putting them together, but it's a really fun day," Casillas said. "Their kids are usually here having a good time, decorating cookies for the party and things like that. Mom and Dad are putting together bikes for the less-fortunate families."

That's one of several initiatives Local 332 takes part in to help improve the quality of life in San Jose, the 12th-largest city in the U.S., along with the surrounding area.

Another major one is the YWCA Walk a Mile, which is held every summer and raises money for the organization's work to aid women and their children affected by domestic or sexual abuse.

Local 332 raised $15,000 this year, the second-largest total of any team taking part. It has been a regular participant since 2007, when now-retired Business Agent Sal Ventura got involved with the YMCA and encouraged others to join him. Ventura still takes part in the walk. Apprentice wirewoman Zahira Elmansoumi was the captain of this year's team.

"Walk a Mile is a fun and competitive event for a serious cause," said journeyman wireman and Local 332 member Lilliana Martinez, who is active in many of the charitable events, including the walk.

"There is a quiet but growing rivalry amongst teams. I think this event aligns with our sense of community and brings out our best. We are the community.”