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Offering a helping hand

November 25, 2002|by KATE COLEMAN

"If crutches would grow, we'd plant them up in the park," says Bob Walton, a member of the Maugansville Ruritan Club.

The organization never has a shortage of crutches in its storage building. The group also has other medical equipment - hospital beds, wheelchairs, walkers, bedside commodes and lift chairs - available free of charge to people in the little community outside Hagerstown.

Jay Stouffer has headed up the Ruritans' service project for more than 30 years.

Arlene Baer is a satisfied customer. When her husband, Jason, had hip replacement surgery a couple of years ago and then had both knees replaced a few months later, he couldn't climb the stairs of their two-story home. They borrowed a hospital bed from the local organization.


"I think it's just wonderful," Arlene Baer says.

More than a dozen Washington County Lions Clubs have loan closets. Each helps residents of their local area, but the clubs help each other out, says Roger Moore of the Sharpsburg Lions.

There also are organizations in neighboring Pennsylvania and West Virginia that lend medical gear to people who need it.

Bernie Lesky chairs the Hagerstown Lions Club's medical equipment committee. Michelle Wink is office manager at his business, B.P. Lesky Distributing Co. Inc., where the equipment is stored.

She has seen the benefits of the loan of medical equipment from both sides. Her brother was injured in a car accident and needed a wheelchair for a short time. When her sister was ill, Wink also sought help from the Lions' closet. The family wasn't at a place financially where they could purchase the needed aids. They appreciated the service.

Wink also gets calls - "every single day" - from people who need equipment. She sees how much the service means to people.

In Jefferson County, W.Va., Good Shepherd Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers provides equipment to those who don't have insurance to cover purchase, or while they're waiting to get through the "red tape" of coverage, says Sarah Fleming, program coordinator.

Good Shepherd also has enough crutches. "They are like bunnies," she laughs. Crutches of different sizes often appear on her doorstep.

The organizations expect that the equipment will be returned when people don't need it any longer.

Frank Leiter, who coordinates the service for the Lions of Halfway, recently got a call from someone who told him she had one of the club's wheelchairs. He asked for the address and told her he'd pick it up.

The wheelchair was in a small town 20 miles south of Chicago, Leiter laughs. He says the club only has lost one or two items in the 15 years he's been handling the loans.

Club members scope yard sales and auctions for equipment they think people can use.

The organizations don't charge for the loaned equipment, but will happily accept donations.

"It's such a reward to see the looks on people's faces," says Williamsport Lion Jim Rudolph. "That's what it's all about."

Equipment lenders

Several Tri-State organizations have medical equipment to lend to people in their local communities.

Here are some of them:

Washington County, Md.

  • Washington County Commission on Aging


    Judy Brewer, ext. 220

  • Lions Clubs:
    • Boonsboro - Nelson Baker, 301-432-5315

    • Clear Spring - Tom Knode, 301-842-3239

    • Funkstown - Ralph Dorsey, 301-790-2440

    • Halfway - Frank Leiter, 301-733-0877

    • Hagerstown - Bernie Lesky, 301-733-0787

    • Hancock - Ernest Shives, 301-739-3298

    • Longmeadow - Reed Hardy, 301-797-4186

    • North Hagerstown - Gail Lane, 1-717-597-1845

    • Sharpsburg - Roger Moore, 301-739-8245

    • Smithsburg - Jerry Weaver, 301-824-5227

    • West Hagerstown- Clarence Koontz, 301-733-1240

    • Williamsport - Jim Rudolph, 301-797-7939

Franklin County, Pa.

  • Easter Seals - Chambersburg, 1-717-264-7578; Waynesboro, 1-717-762-5315

  • Franklin County Area Agency on Aging, 1-717-263-2153

Berkeley County, W.Va.

  • The Care Corner, Martinsburg - Florence Schaeffer, 1-304-754-8454.

Jefferson County

  • Good Shepherd Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers, Shepherdstown, W.Va., 1-304-876-3325 or 1-304-725-2262

Morgan County

  • Senior Life Services of Morgan County, 1-304-258-3096

Some area American Legions, Amvets and Veterans of Foreign Wars organizations also have loan closets. Check your telephone directory for phone numbers.

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