PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A wheelchair drive was held Friday to help people in Puerto Rico.
A group was collecting gently used wheelchairs to help replenish the supply in hospitals, nursing homes and other care facilities on the island.
The humanitarian crisis continues in Puerto Rico. Emergency crews are still passing out food and water to the tens of thousands of people affected by Hurricane Maria. Officials say 93 percent of the island still lacks electricity, and 50 percent of Puerto Rico still lacks water.
But a local organization says there’s a need that goes beyond food, water and power.
Global Links is a Pittsburgh-based humanitarian aid group. They say there’s an urgent need in Puerto Rico for wheelchairs, and they’ve been asked to provide whatever they could. The organization says the request came at the perfect time.
“We have serendipitously just received a huge shipment of wheelchairs from UPMC, who are swapping out their wheelchairs,” one woman with Global Links said.
The wheelchairs have to leave Pittsburgh, en route for Puerto Rico, on Monday. So Global Links has called in its volunteers to spend the weekend cleaning and prepping those chairs.
“We do whatever they need. Patch the vinyl, replace the wheels, armpads, brakes,” volunteer Chris Meyer said. “They have to have good brakes.”
Global Links says if you have an old wheelchair that you don’t know what to do with, they’re happy to accept it.
“If you’re in a wheelchair or if [you have] a relative and then they no longer need the wheelchair or you’ve gotten a new one, nobody knows what to do with the wheelchair,” a Global Links representative said. “And so they’re really always happy to find a source of somebody who will take it. Because nobody wants to throw it out or let it collect dust in the basement. It’s a valuable resource.”
You can drop off old wheelchairs at Global Links near the Green Tree Post Office, Construction Junction in Point Breeze, or at the Humble Barber in Brighton Heights.