Quote: "We provide this equipment at no charge to anyone who needs it, including those recovering from accident, injury or illness. This can make the difference between a person living independently or living a life of dependence and immobility."
Home Medical Equipment Donation Drive & Recycling Event is set for Saturday, October 11, 2014.
Small but mighty, the nonprofit St. Louis HELP organization (www.stlhelp.org) has freely loaned home health equipment to thousands of people since Laura Cannon Singer founded the organization in her garage with a handful of volunteers in 2008.
In the process, the group has diverted tons of used medical equipment from landfills every year.
"I was driven by a mission to help people who can't afford home medical equipment because Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance don't always cover the cost of renting or buying certain types of home medical equipment that people desperately need," Singer says.
"We provide this equipment at no charge to anyone who needs it, including those recovering from accident, injury or illness. This can make the difference between a person living independently or living a life of dependence and immobility."
St. Louis HELP is indeed making a positive difference. Here's what a few of the thousands of people the group has served have to say:
Lydia N., age 56: "I could not have afforded $4,000 for this equipment. Nobody else could help me."
Marie L., age 80: "I'm glad there is a service like yours... I could never afford this equipment and Medicare won't pay for it. Thank you."
Marion Y., age 75: "I was given a power wheelchair by your organization, and I am sure it will become more helpful to me, helping my self confidence and independence. Thank you so much!"
St. Louis HELP is now headquartered at a 5,000-square-foot warehouse in the St. Louis suburb of Olivette filled with wheelchairs, crutches, canes, beds and other devices. Operated almost entirely by volunteers, the organization freely loans about $1.2 million in donated, reconditioned equipment annually to people who can keep it for as long as necessary.
"We accept donations of nearly every type of home medical equipment in good working condition - except oxygen and medications. We revitalize and clean the equipment so it's ready to loan to needy people or their caregivers," says Singer, a busy, blond-haired woman with seemingly endless energy.
Home medical equipment available for free loan include these and other items that can be picked up at St. Louis HELP's warehouse after recipients sign simple forms (or, in some cases, get a recommendation from their physician):
"Shower equipment is in high demand; so are hospital beds - we loan at least six hospital beds per week," says Singer, who worked in marketing before she founded St. Louis HELP. She got the idea to create St. Louis HELP on a business trip when she heard about a church that loaned wheelchairs to its parishioners. The rest is history.
"There is a huge need in the community for the home medical equipment we provide and we are always working to restock our inventory of donated items," she says, adding, "Nothing goes to waste. We divert tons of used medical equipment from going into landfills every year because we repair, clean and loan it rather than throw it away." Good parts of broken equipment are used to repair other equipment. Broken wooden crutches are recycled via a tree chipping company.
To replenish its inventory, St. Louis HELP is hosting a Medical Equipment Donation Drive on Saturday, October 11, 2014, from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm at 12 designated Walgreen parking lots in metro St. Louis. Singer hopes St. Louisans will look in their attics, basements or garages for used home health equipment they no longer need and donate it.
"All donations of home medical equipment are tax deductible," says Singer. "We accept donations of manual and power wheelchairs, electric hospital beds, shower chairs, canes, crutches, walkers, grab bars, elevated toilet seats, portable commodes, lift chairs, seating cushions, back supports, folding ramps and other devices.
Equipment donation drop-off locations for the event on Saturday, October 11, are shown at the website www.stlhelp.org. All locations will be staffed by St. Louis HELP volunteers accepting donated items and loading them into trucks.
The group's good work has not gone unnoticed. In August 2014, St. Louis HELP received a prestigious "Point of Light Award" from Points of Light, the volunteer management organization founded in 1990 in response to President George Bush's call for volunteer community service. "We feel very grateful and especially honored to receive this prestigious award," says Singer.
In bestowing the national award, Points of Light executives said:
"Dozens of local volunteers have enlisted with St. Louis HELP and are now participating in one of the most meaningful efforts they have ever encountered. Some volunteers began as recipients of equipment or supplies but are now giving back to the very cause that helped them regain their independence and their health..."
In 2013 St. Louis HELP loaned 4,330 medical items valued at a total of $1,267,470 and an additional 13.5 tons of equipment and supplies was shared with partner charities valued at $892,713. St. Louis HELP is able to do all this by leveraging the devoted volunteers and partners they have in order to meet the needs of any person dealing with health issues.
"St. Louis HELP creates a safety net for the uninsured, the underinsured, and individuals lacking the coverage needed."
To learn more, visit the website www.stlhelp.org or call St. Louis HELP at 314.567-4700.
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