Archives for category: Wheels of Hope Recycling Program

Wheels of Hope is dedicated to keeping wheelchairs, medical supplies and other DME out of landfills. Every item we receive is either refurbished, dismantled and sorted for recyclable parts, or we find other ministries that can use medical supplies. Lastly, if no use can be found or made, donations are cleaned and recycled.

This year, we received a surprise financial gift from the Kimble Foundation. Our Board of Directors elected to allocate the funds for a long-overdue clean-out of our warehouse of long-accumulated damaged donations that we cannot recondition to distribute overseas (No Junk for Jesus!) We allocated funds to set up a second day for Director of Operations, Patrick Rimke, to assess, sort, clean and move out these materials to recycling facilities. We also allocated funds to buy any needed parts to make some of the broken things whole again to ship overseas to help those who need it most.

The result? We have thus far recycled gel cell batteries from power wheelchairs, aluminum from damaged walkers, bent or broken wheelchair parts and other miscellaneous goods. These different metals were cleaned, sorted and delivered to Jeffco which recycles scrap metal for re-use. We received an additional small fee of $438, not enough to offset our costs, so the grant from Kimble made this service feasible.

Seven pallets of flattened cardboard boxes were also delivered to River Valley Paper. We have more to recycle and look forward to volunteer crews to help on Saturday Warehouse Whip-it events Nov. 30th and Dec. 7th.

We partnered with Jay’s Recycling to scrap and recycle our broken and damaged steel. Presently, we are accumulating more steel and mixed metals to make it worth another trip. It is best to have 3-4 tons at a time, and the price per ton has been low over the years. Jay works hard!

We have plastic parts from damaged bathroom aids to recycle. We will take our broken plastics to the Kimble recycle plant near our facility, once we have enough.

We receive medical supplies that our partnering in-country organizations (The RICD Wheelchair Project in Thailand and Christo Ayuda in Chile) can’t use, like aerosol machines, ventilators, oxygen equipment, adult diapers, bandages and other home medical devices. We re-donate these to Central American Medical Outreach, Vine International and other local ministries that distribute these items to Honduras and Guatemala.

Many heartfelt thanks to the Kimble Foundation for assisting us with our recycling efforts for those broken pieces and parts that remain unfit for distribution to persons with disabilities, and for giving that forgotten wheelchair that only needs a wheel-lock a chance to bless someone in need!

—by Patrick Rimke

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Since our noble volunteers are all camera shy, let me take you on a tour of their world. First, the long set of steps the volunteers must climb up to our second floor warehouse space.

Although we have not received donations from Invacare since 2012, we are keeping busy. We were found by Medwish last year and received over a hundred wheelchairs from them. Our new board member, Patrick Simons, in Dubois PA, brings us about 30 wheelchairs and other items every year. The Hatti Lharlum Foundation is supplying us with tilt-in-space wheelchairs a few times a year.

We also have our worse-case chairs. They are the ones that have been sitting on shelves while we focused on the chairs in better condition. Some of the inventory tags are from 1998. Many are very dusty and may have surface rust.

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At the top of the steps is our recycle and storage area for all things misfit. Here we stage equipment for parts, or deconstruct them to recycle the steel and aluminum.

Our volunteers have their work cut out for them. We are blessed to have their dedication, when they finish one, sometimes in two to three days, it looks very good, not new, but in very usable condition. The amount of TLC these chairs require is very time consuming for the volunteers, but these men cheerfully go the distance, week after week.

We get creative with some of them. We do not have matching upholstery so it may have a red seat, green back and gray arm pads. This may start a new trend in custom wheelchair designs! We are also making some of the wider chairs into narrow ones using smaller seat and back upholstery, because there is little need overseas for seating over 20” wide.

Tires, front and rear, are the next big challenge, some are worn down to the plastic wheel. We used most of our stock of good and new wheels last year and sent many replacement wheels to the Wheelchair Project Repair shop in Northern Thailand ( I wish we still had some of them.) We do have some replacement tires but no way to install them on rims.

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Footrests and leg-rests are also in short supply. Volunteer Larry Herring has been making modifications to make some work, which is again very time-consuming. Sometimes I have to say we will have to ship that chair with out them. Some users, such as amputees, don’t need foot rests, but ultimately that decision is up to the person seating the recipient.

I am so blessed to fellowship with these two teams of volunteers who come every Tuesday and Wednesday. These eleven guys come most every week, and many volunteer elsewhere during the week. Our Lord has called them to be a part of this ministry.

Because of all of us together, working with the Lord, many lives are changed. Our mobility recipients are able to go to school, work or just get outside in the fresh air. We don’t know how many have called out to Jesus in gratitude or given their lives to Him, but God knows. Their names are written in the Book!

1 Corinthians 3:6 speaks about some that plant and some that water, but God gives the increase. I believe all of us involved with Wheels are the ones who plant, and the ones who water are giving the equipment away in His Name and sharing the love of Christ. God gives the increase as those with disabilities, their families and caregivers discover His unconditional love.

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The other end of the main room has our shipping and receiving areas. In the foreground is durable medical equipment we have just received, awaiting Patrick’s assessment for condition, and inventory.

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Here is just one skid load of volunteer reconditioned chairs awaiting shipment in early 2017 to the Wheelchair Project in Thailand.

As we wind down our second year of work on the many years’ worth of donations in need of major rebuilding and repair work, we want to give a huge shout-out to our faithful volunteers who spend one day of every week working miracles, all year long.

The Tuesday crew has two Jims, George, Rick, Larry, Frank and Loren. The Wednesday team is two Johns and a Jon, a Jim, and Dan. These are the guys that keep Wheels rolling. Patrick stresses that his work in the warehouse is only a small part of the Wheels of Hope mission.

A typical Tuesday or Wednesday begins at 9am with fellowship and devotions. Work begins at 10 with Patrick providing chairs and needed parts and fielding questions about how to fix or modify them to make them usable, sometimes interchanging parts from one brand chair to another. Volunteers put in about 5 hours of TLC each, finishing up around 3pm.

An average wheelchair now takes two days to disassemble, repair and re- build, so the Tuesday guys often leave wheelchairs for the Wednesday guys to finish up and visa versa.

Patrick works to keep a collection of parts to choose from: side frame pieces, caster housings, etc. An example is a valuable tilt-in-space chair that needs a way to mount the rear wheels. We also have a number of extra-wide chairs that we modify by narrowing the seating to t a slender person who does not have access to the typical American diet!

Patrick relates that the volunteers are, in some cases “miracle workers. They take things in really rough condition: dirty, dusty and sometimes rusty. (Some of these chairs have been lurking in dark warehouse corners since 1998.) With TLC, these miracle workers first dismantle the chair of wheels, casters, armrests, etc. then clean the chair and detachable parts so they look good, and can be closely examined for problems like a bent castor fork or wobbly wheel. They lubricate the bearings so they function properly, and best of all, put all the parts back together to create a blessing.”

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Another team of miracle workers, Frank and Rick, have spent the last year repairing a mountain of rollators that Patrick had sorted for scrap metal. Rick spends his day at the pile, dismantling the rollators and determining whether the parts are usable. Then sorts them into piles. Frank takes the parts from those piles and rebuilds rollators to make them work. Sometimes he even is able to bolt broken frames together. The result, a functional piece of equipment that enables a frail person to keep moving.

Loren and Larry are the boxing and shipping team. Larry also searches out the right leg-rests to go with the wheelchairs being boxed. Patrick then, stages the boxed chairs and makes inventories for each shipment.

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Volunteers are at the heart of making Wheels work. Without their consistent and faithful labors, Wheels would remain a warehouse full of broken and rusted pieces like Ezekiel’s valley of dry bones. Volunteers are the breath of God that puts those bones together to make a difference in the lives of persons with disabilities all over the world!

Total volunteer hours for the year: almost 3000! — with one 45’ container sent to Thailand and equipment for one 40’ container staged for Guatemala.

We look forward to what the God has in store for next year. We will continue to work on the more needy donations from past years, as well as new donations. Hopefully, rules will change to make it easier for manufacturers to make donations again. For a deeper look at the regulations affecting donations to all medical missions, go to http://fda.gov/downloads/RegulatoryInformation/Guidances/UCM127067.pdf

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Friendship Alliance Youth recycle at the warehouse

Ten youth from Friendship Alliance Church in Auburn, Ohio came and worked in our recycle section on May 19 as part of a weekend event to explore and identify with those in need.

After sleeping over in tents back at the church, these hard workers skipped breakfast and lunch and worked our recycle piles of broken steel and aluminum rollators, diminishing them into neat containers of reusable parts and recyclable metals.

Over 50 rollators were recycled! These youths worked fast and made their fasting work!

Juice fast, check. Water fast, check … cleaner?

Mike Mager and his wife Nicole are both Physical Therapists and youth group leaders, and learned about the ministry of Wheels of Hope through Hattie Larlham Foundation, where Wheels of Hope collects wheelchairs and equipment no longer needed by their patients.

Mike Mager pulls apart a rollator.

Half the youth worked with Mike in the workshop, taking apart the aluminum rollators.

Sam and Morgan part out  a broken rollator.

Mike J. works on a reusable wheel.

While the other half tackled the steel rollators out on the warehouse floor disassembling in “Majority World” style.

Claire, Kelly, Bren and David get down and work hard!

… while Emily-the-industrious supervises the gang to bring order out of chaos!

After enough frames were stripped, the group learned how to stack, shrink wrap and palletize them for delivery to a local scap metals dealer.

Kelly, Mike and Morgan wrap it up!

Mike and Sam find a staging spot.

These youth did truly amazing work in the 6 hours they each gave in service to Wheels of Hope and those in need! Re-using and recycling is the main reason Wheels of Hope is able to collect free wheelchairs for those in need who have no means to purchase a wheelchair in developing nations overseas.

Many of them are planning on going to Nicaragua this summer to work with the Messiah Project and the Land of Judah orphanage. Wheels of Hope is working with PTs Mike and Nicole on equipping part of the orphanage for children with disabilities, bringing hope to the helpless.

Last Saturday (March 24) five new friends came to help kick-off our new

Warehouse Volunteer Recycling Project

Join us from 9am – 2pm every Second and Fourth Saturday
April 14 & 28; May 12 & 26;
June 16 & 30; July 14 & 28; August 11 & 25
September 8 & 22 and October 13 & 27

It’s time to move mountains!

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Reduce. reuse, recycle: broken rollators are reused and recycled. Wheels of Hope volunteers take apart the broken equipment, sort usable parts for reuse at overseas workshops where the reconditioned rollators are distributed. The broken aluminum pieces are scrap-metal recycled to help support Wheels of Hope operations. Nearby landfills are reduced!

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Lynda Rimke taking apart a rollator

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Paul Mack taking apart a rollator March 24th

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Larry Brainard taking apart a rollator March 24th

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Boxes of parts from 6 rollators awaiting shipment to a partnering overseas repair shop

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A box of scrap aluminum from the same 6 broken rollators

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Cardboard mountains are also recycled!

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On March 24th, Wanna, Savanna and Langley from Bethel Temple AG in Canton http://www.cantonbethel.org have faith to move this mountain!

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Their new, neat stacks await recycling! Great job, ladies!

Join us next time on Saturday April 14th!